When the UK entered a nationwide lockdown in mid-March, many businesses across the country were left contemplating the implications of weeks, if not months, of reduced spending, enforced closure and disrupted supply chains. The effects of the shutdown rippled across the economy. Alongside the obvious casualties – pubs and restaurants that had to close, or performers and artists that suddenly lacked a paying audience – there were also more subtle impacts.
For Kalas Packaging, based in Lincolnshire, the biggest problem was that people would be buying fewer plants.
“One of our main business lines is producing horticultural labels for supermarkets and garden centres”, explains Matt Evans, the company’s Sales Director. “But when lockdown hit, all the garden centres closed, and supermarkets were focused on rationing pasta and toilet paper, not restocking their houseplants, so we had a large number of orders cancelled. We were actually worried that the supermarkets would stop selling plants altogether, as they’re non-essential items. That didn’t end up happening, but we were still concerned about our order book; usually spring and summer is the peak of the horticultural market, and it looked like the bottom had just fallen out of it.”
As the country entered lockdown, concerns about the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were rising; supply lines to the NHS and care homes were coming under severe pressure. In response, civil society whirred into action, looking to plug the gaps. Some local schools got in touch with Kalas, to see if the company could provide materials for making face visors. Realising that their facilities and supply chain relationships were perfect for the task, Evans and his colleagues sprung into action.
“Of course, we were very happy to work with the local schools, and provided enough material to produce a few thousand visors for local care homes and the NHS – but we realised we could do more. In mid-April, we started working on a design for the visors that could be CE and EN certified, while increasing our production capacity.”
Kalas’s visors received official certification at the start of June, and thanks to a largely automated production process, the company is now able to produce up to one million units a week. Thanks to a simple two-piece design the visors are 100% recyclable; the headband piece is made of polypropylene, and the visor itself of PET, both of which can go straight into a regular household recycling bin. Other visor designs often include padding made of unrecyclable foam, making sustainable disposal much less convenient.
“We’re very proud that alongside our regular operations, we’re now producing face visors that are inexpensive, sustainable and fully-certified,” says Evans. “We’re a small team of 15, but hopefully we can play a big role in protecting medical staff and key workers”.
UK Partnerships is working with Kalas to supply face visors to the UK public sector. Prices start at £1/unit, with a minimum order size of 500, and lower rates for bulk orders; delivery is typically 3-4 days after payment. To find out more, click here, or request a quote now