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Waste Not
Meet the Company Infusing Circularity, Inclusivity into PPE

AmorSui's new line of higher-quality, inclusive, washable and recyclable garments eliminate waste and better protect medical personnel. We spoke with founder Beau Wangtrakuldee about her vision for a circular commerce model for medical supplies.

The environmental impact of medical supplies came into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic — thanks to the alarming rise in use and waste of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, visors and single-use isolation gowns.

After PhD chemist Beau Wangtrakuldee was severely injured in a lab in 2008 — when a chemical spill burned straight through her standard-issue lab coat onto her thigh — she realized PPE needed to be better, and she set out to create a new standard. Launched in 2018, her startup, AmorSui (derived from Latin, meaning “self-love”) — originally focused on protective lab gear — pivoted during the pandemic in reaction to the rampant waste and shortages of disposable PPE products in hospitals; the company’s new product line features higher-quality, inclusive, washable and recyclable garments that better protect medical personnel.

We spoke with Wangtrakuldee to learn more about AmorSui’s new, zero-waste product line and her vision for a circular commerce model for medical supplies.

What are AmorSui’s sustainability goals?

Beau Wangtrakuldee: We're deeply concerned about the environmental impact of disposable PPE — during the peak of COVID-19, hospitals were discarding thousands of tons of disposable medical waste daily into landfills. The plastic used in these products can take up to 400 years to decompose; this is not a legacy I want to leave behind. In the short term, we're tackling this with initial product launches emphasizing zero-waste solutions.

This fall, we are excited to roll out our take-back program. This initiative is particularly close to my heart as it ensures that more PPE products are returned to us for recycling, significantly reducing landfill waste. Our subscription service offers professional laundering for gowns, enabling healthcare systems and other large organizations to drastically reduce their PPE waste.

Looking to the future, AmorSui is committed to pioneering a net-zero marketplace for medical supplies by striving towards a circular economy in the medical and science sectors. Our vision is a world where all PPE and medical supplies are reusable and recyclable. We're also developing a comprehensive, sustainability-measurement system intended to be adopted industry-wide. This will help track and improve the environmental impacts associated with medical supplies. Through these efforts, we aim to inspire change beyond our products — influencing the entire industry to prioritize sustainability.

It's a challenging journey ahead, but one filled with the potential to fundamentally transform how we protect our healthcare professionals — from immediate risks in their work environments and from the broader environmental challenges we all face.

What materials do you use in your products, and how are they sourced? You say your fabrics are recyclable — does that refer to the blend, or do the fabrics need to be chemically separated to be recycled?

BW: We are committed to using materials that provide the highest level of protection and adhere to our stringent sustainability standards. We choose fluid-repellent, anti-odor fabrics that are completely recyclable. We carefully source these materials from vendors and suppliers who share our commitment to sustainability, prioritizing local sources within the US to reduce our carbon footprint. Our fabric blends are designed to be recycled as a whole, which means they do not require chemical separation — this simplifies the recycling process and minimizes environmental impact, aligning with our goal to create products that are as environmentally friendly as they are effective.

How will you measure success? Do you plan to report your impacts?

BW: The sustainability-measurement system we are developing will allow our enterprise customers access to real-time reports on greenhouse gas emissions and reduced waste, energy consumption, and water use associated with PPE and medical supplies. From AmorSui’s standpoint, we plan to quantify the metrics pulled from our customers and report them annually to the industry on the progress made from our circular PPE and net-zero medical supply marketplace.

How have you made your products more inclusive and representative of the diversity in medical personnel?

BW: Much of current PPE — even those marketed as unisex — is designed to fit the average, Caucasian man’s face and body shape, despite women making up 80 percent of the healthcare workforce. We design our products with inclusivity in mind by offering a wide range of sizes to fit various body types, including women. Our lab coats and isolation gowns come in sizes ranging from XS to XXL — and women’s lab coats are adjustable — ensuring a proper fit for everyone. We have also developed a fire-resistant hijab to cater to Muslim women. By creating high-quality, long-lasting products that reduce the need for frequent replacements, AmorSui ensures that their PPE is not only accessible but also cost-effective in the long run.

What is the plan for your take-back program?

BW: For our take-back program, the plan is not just to recycle but to transform. Used PPE collected through this program will be repurposed into various products — including car interiors, airplane seats, and materials for artificial joints and bones. Through these initiatives, we aim to set a new standard in the industry for sustainability and responsibility.

Image credit: AmorSui

Has AmorSui considered becoming certified by third-party sustainability standards (e.g., OEKO-TEX)?

BW: Absolutely! OEKO-TEX is the gold standard for textiles that are harmless to human health and we want to highlight our advantages in textile safety. AmorSui — unlike other traditional protective-apparel companies — has developed durable, water-repellent and fire-resistant coating technology that does not deposit toxic PFAS or microplastics; so, our products will not lead to various health issues — including heart diseases, cancers, Alzheimer’s, bronchitis and infertility. We are preparing our team for on-site inspection and evaluation, which is required for OEKO-TEX certification.

Beyond materials, how does AmorSui work to minimize the environmental impact of its manufacturing processes and its overall carbon footprint?

BW: At AmorSui, we're dedicated to minimizing our environmental impact across every aspect of our operations. We use zero-waste production methods, waterless dyeing and solvent-free processes that eliminate the release of toxic chemicals. Additionally, we've developed a proprietary, eco-friendly, fluid-repellent formula free of harmful PFAS. We emphasize local sourcing to reduce our carbon footprint, decrease transportation emissions, and invest in renewable energy and energy-efficient production methods.

The impact of our approach is significant: For instance, just 100 of our reusable isolation gowns can replace 10,000 disposable ones, preventing 3,750 pounds of waste and offering considerable cost savings. AmorSui aims to sustain the industry through these efforts, proving that high-quality medical supplies can be produced with profound environmental respect.

How do you ensure fair labor practices and ethical working conditions in your supply chain? Are your suppliers and partners required to adhere to specific environmental and social standards?

BW: Finding supply partners who share your values and ethical manufacturing practices is significant — they are an extension of the brand. In evaluating potential supply partners, we request documentation around ethical standards and an interview with one of the business owners. From our experience, we found that a company’s ethical cultures often reflect those of its leadership. If the business owner values doing right by environmental and social standards, the company practices would also reflect those principles. When we can, we also set up annual visits and review the documentation with our suppliers annually to ensure that ethical standards are implemented accurately.

What opportunities do you see for AmorSui to partner or collaborate with any other organizations to enhance its impact?

BW: Because PPE is used to protect 1 in 4 people in the global workforce across different sectors, there are tremendous opportunities for AmorSui to partner with various types of organizations. Most importantly, we seek to partner with frontline-professional working groups to advocate for better product-safety practices to protect them in daily work. While we're already collaborating with large healthcare organizations to adopt sustainable PPE practices and reduce carbon emissions effectively, we welcome additional partners who want to learn more about our circular PPE solution.

In other areas we have yet to explore, we see significant opportunities in partnering with environmental NGOs and sustainability initiatives to champion circular-economy principles across the medical sector. We're also eager to join forces with research institutions to pioneer innovative, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes. Additionally, working alongside governmental and regulatory bodies to promote policies supporting sustainable PPE and medical supplies is crucial for potential collaboration. Through these partnerships, AmorSui aims to enhance our sustainability efforts and drive meaningful change across the industry — demonstrating that it is possible to simultaneously protect our healthcare workers and our planet.

What’s next for AmorSui?

BW: Contrary to other PPE suppliers and brands that sell directly to enterprises, AmorSui plans to create a groundswell of awareness among all PPE users as the brand grows — to eventually drive the implementation of better-quality, size-inclusive and sustainable options for the organizations they work for. We believe it’s essential to involve the wearers of PPE in our brand journey and create a direct feedback channel, so that we can continue to prioritize the needs of the PPE users above all else. Especially with the workforce shift towards younger generations, we plan to engage our potential customers digitally — including social media and online — and in person at community events, and more. Our hope for this launch is for the wearers of PPE to join AmorSui’s mission to protect people and the planet, share our brand with others in your network, and advocate for AmorSui's better PPE to your employers.

From the enterprise perspective, AmorSui is the only net-zero PPE option that will reduce carbon emissions by up to 50 percent while providing 22 percent cost savings and better employee protection. The US healthcare system is such a large producer of waste that if it were its own country, it would rank 11th worldwide in greenhouse gas pollution. Shockingly, 90 percent of healthcare’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from purchasing, transporting, and distributing products like PPE — contributing to 14,000 tons of waste daily, and over 90 percent of this waste is not recycled.

With initiatives like the Health Sector Climate Pledge calling for policy changes, adaptation within healthcare is imminent. AmorSui aims to be the premier brand to facilitate this transition. We are building a brand and company that will change how everyone buys medical supplies by creating circular commerce of the world's most essential and frequently used consumables — PPE is just one category of medical supplies we focus on right now as a jumping-off point. We are building out tech stacks for circular commerce, including a life-cycle analysis accounting tool and marketplace and a full-service network of cleaning and recycling vendors for PPE and medical supplies. Our fewer, better PPE is a critical milestone toward achieving the net-zero commerce for medical supplies we envision. We’re excited for what is to come.