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Technical Absorbents
Technical Absorbents

4th April 2020, France

French push for face mask independence

On Tuesday March 31, French President Emmanuel Macron toured the face-mask manufacturing plant Kolmi-Hopen, in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou near Angers, to help reassure French citizens that the government is investing and working to increase output

On Tuesday March 31, French President Emmanuel Macron toured the face-mask manufacturing plant Kolmi-Hopen, in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou near Angers, to help reassure French citizens that the government is investing and working to increase output, add capacity and provide critical care professionals with the masks they need.

Kolmi-Hopen, is a subsidiary of Medicom, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of medical-grade personal protective equipment, including surgical and respiratory masks. It is also one of four major manufacturers of N95 efficiency level face masks in France, along with Segetex-EIF, Macopharma and Paul Boyé Technologies, who are being assisted by the French government to deliver up to 200 million masks in the coming months.

“We know that the difficulties we have encountered are linked to the very large increase in the consumption we have of these masks,” Macron said in a statement. “We have gone from supplying four million per week to approximately 40 million per week for carers and this has put great strain on the existing stock. Before the crisis, we produced 3.3 million masks in France per week and by the end of April, we will be producing over ten million weekly, to achieve full independence.”

All four key French face mask manufacturers are operating at full speed, seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

Kolmi-Hopen has added to its workforce and is making 270,000 N95 masks every day, along with 450,000 surgical masks.

France has now implemented restrictions on the export of masks and other PPE and is supporting initiatives to increase output at the plant, in order to best meet increases in demand. With these investments, its capacity is expected to double in a matter of months.

In Labarthe-sur-Lèze, near Toulouse, Paul Boyé Technologies has relaunched four face mask production lines that have been mothballed since 2012, having already received proposals to relocate them to the USA.

The company, which employs 270 people, manufactures uniforms and protective equipment for police, gendarmes, soldiers and firefighters, started making face masks when the French state placed an order for a billion masks during the 2006 bird flu and then the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, but from 2012 state orders ceased and it shut down the machines.

Macopharma, based in Tourcoing has also resumed its production of masks, which it had put on hold for lack of orders, while the French family business Segetex-EIF, is once again producing masks at full capacity – but at its plant in Wuhan, in China, where the pandemic started.

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