Green Ideas for Invention Makers: Biodegradable Personal Masks

Solutions to Problems Worth Solving: Biodegradable Mask

MAKO Design + Invent – March 15, 2021

As pioneers in the product development industry for startups and inventors, we know what it takes to come up with a great idea. We know that the best ideas are often the most simple ones that solve a specific problem. If you’re interested in green ideas for invention makers, here’s a short case study for you.

Recently, FPInnovations, a private non-profit organization that supports the forestry sector, created a biodegradable personal mask suitable for public use and ready for manufacturing. Today, we’re going to break down this product idea and discover the pain point it’s trying to solve and why it’s a simple solution.

One green idea for invention makers is to create masks that are sustainable for the environment.
High angle close up of disposed blue surgical face mask lying on ground.

The Pain Point

Coming up with good a green idea for invention makers starts by addressing a problem worth solving. Single-use masks have been an important part of our daily lives to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Every day, 129 billion disposable masks are worn by people around the world. To match the increased demand, we’ve seen the production and sales of masks skyrocket over the past year. In fact, the United Nations trade body estimates that global sales will increase by approximately $800 million from 2019.

However, they also suggest that a disturbing 75 percent of used masks will pile up in landfills or in the sea. The plastics used in the typical disposable mask can take hundreds of years to decompose and often end up in the stomachs of wildlife. Without a doubt, masks are a necessity for us to stay safe. At the same time, however, they contribute to the increasing plastic pollution problem – this is why a biodegradable mask is a good green idea for invention makers.

A Simple Solution

As you probably know very well, the most important of the mask is in the middle part, the filter. It’s what helps keep pollutants out and keeps you safe. Here’s an interesting note when coming up with green ideas for invention makers. Rather than reinventing the mask from the ground up, FPInnovations looked towards the forestry sector. They created their filter from a blend of hardwood and softwood fibers sourced from sustainable forests. They call it biodegradable cellulosic filter media if you want to get scientific. 

The filtration efficiency is 60 percent, which is nearly double the average filtration efficiency of a cloth mask. It also meets international norms as well as the more demanding ASTM breathability and filtration standards.


What’s clear so far is that green ideas for invention makers don’t need to be revolutionary – they can improve on something that already exists. Along with the filter, the rest of the mask is biodegradable too. This includes the elastic ear loops and the malleable bit that secures the mask to your nose. And to top it off, manufacturers don’t need to change their processes to create these masks. These new biodegradable masks can be put together on existing assembly machines.

After you come up with green ideas, make sure to validate them. For example, FPInnovations will test the comfort of the ear loops and check how secure the mask feels on different noses. While the best way to validate your idea is to get real people to try your product, you can also try easy-to-use tools like a SWOT analysis or the BCG matrix to see if you have the right competitive edge in the market.

MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to small businesses, startups, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry’s leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Feel free to Contact Us anytime for help with your project.

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