Coca-Cola partners to produce and distribute PPE to fight COVID-19 pandemic
The soft drink maker has teamed up with supply chain partners and a network of makers to produce and distribute hundreds of thousands of protective face shields to healthcare workers and first responders.
Soft drink maker Coca-Cola North America has teamed up with supply chain partners and a network of makers to produce and distribute hundreds of thousands of protective face shields to healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
The company is sourcing and donating 100,000 pounds of plastic sheeting to make face shields in partnership with MakersRespond, a nonprofit created to rally makers, manufacturers and markets to address the pandemic-related shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The problem to be solved is that demand for face shields, which are worn over masks to protect healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients, is far outpacing supply. On average, 1 million face shields are produced each week, but the U.S. healthcare system currently needs up to 10 million per week. Coca-Cola North America and MakersRespond are stepping in to help bridge the current production gap.
MakersRespond sends the donated sheeting to independent makerspaces – collectives of engineering students, architects, industrial designers and other volunteer professionals – as well as small-sale commercial manufacturers to produce shields using an open-source collection of FDA-authorized designs. The organization fields requests from governments and hospitals and delivers shields where they are needed most. An initial run of 150,000 shields produced by K&W Finishing in Baltimore, Md. will be delivered to the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic to support hospitals and care facilities that need it most.
Several Coca-Cola bottlers – including ABARTA Coca-Cola Beverages, Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, Coca-Cola Consolidated and Great Lakes Coca-Cola Bottling – are delivering face shields to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country.
The collaboration began in late-March, when Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast reached out to New Hampshire-based MakeIt Labs to offer logistics and supply chain support in the Boston area. The bottler connected the makerspace with plastic recycler UltrePet and packaging manufacturer EasyPak to donate and transport clean PET plastic sheeting to make shields.
Coca-Cola also helped transport 6,000 pounds of plastic sheeting from one of its suppliers in North Carolina – Sonoco – to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tech students and other groups are using the plastic to make more than 50,000 shields for healthcare workers in the Atlanta area.