Biodegradable face masks: 101 | Materials, Types, Effectiveness

During the 2019 pandemic's peak, almost 1.4 billion disposable face masks went to waste EVERY DAY! Imagine how the numbers added up to the already enormous plastic waste we are still unable to deal with. Read here to know why you should replace ordinary face masks with biodegradable masks.

By the end of 2020, it was clear that the pandemic was here to stay for longer than we expected. The face mask market soared, and so did the litter. The world soon paid heed to the drastic consequences plastic masks had on our environment, and biodegradable alternatives soon became the next hot thing!

“We believe biodegradable masks are the answer to this problem,” said Sung Yeon Hwang, a professor at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology.

With the advent of several eco-friendly and bio-compatible technologies, we saw a significant shift in customer demands. People were now aware of the havoc disposable masks wreaked on our ecosystem and turned towards environment-friendly suppliers.

If you aim to keep your face mask business thriving post-pandemic, biodegradability is the way ahead.

“For face mask businesses to thrive in the post-COVID-19 era, manufacturers must develop masks with distinct product features,” says Frost & Sullivan.

But what are biodegradable face masks? Are they effective? And how many kinds are there? Don’t worry, we have got you covered!

What are biodegradable face masks?

Biodegradable face masks are made up of natural materials. Unlike polypropylene, these materials can decompose and disintegrate into the atmosphere after some time. Hence, they don’t end up in our landfills and oceans as pollutants.

Scientists used several materials to develop eco-friendly face masks. They all have one thing in common – they degrade on their own after you discard them.

Here are a few commonly used materials:

  • Raw vegetable extracts (corn starch and polylactic acid)
  • Hemp
  • Wood fibers
  • Flax
  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Silk

These natural materials can be made anti-microbial by layering them with herbal extracts such as neem, basil, aloe vera, etc.

Are biodegradable face masks effective at filtering air?


While all of these materials are great at returning to the soil, not all are as effective at keeping the virus out. A face mask should have three layers to filter out viruses and other particulate matter.

  • The innermost layer of an absorbent material such as cotton.
  • The middle layer of non-absorbent and non-woven material such as polylactic acid
  • The outermost layer of a non-absorbent material such as polyester

A face mask appropriate for both public and healthcare givers will have the following characteristics:

  • Appropriate filter
  • Tight fit
  • Breathability

Most cloth masks are satisfactory for general public use. However, these materials are not effective at protecting hospital staff prone to infections. They only filter out 16-23% of virus particles that are 0.3 micrometers in diameter.

On the other hand, polylactic acid polymer provides excellent filtration, and these masks are fit for use at a hospital or health care facility. Plus, manufacturers like Ecolive incorporate multiple filters and layers to maximize their filtration efficiency.

If you’ve already decided to protect yourself and the environment, you can order FREE SAMPLES of biodegradable masks.

Pros and cons of the best biodegradable face masks in the market

Most biodegradable face masks fall into one of the following categories:

  • Fabric face masks
  • Seed face masks
  • Hemp face masks
  • Polylactic acid face mask

Here’s what you need to know about each one before choosing the material for your next wholesale order:

1. Fabric Masks


Fabric masks are excellent for a DIY project since they use readily available materials at home. But buying them for your retail store or an institution that uses them in bulk may not be the best option.

What’s Good?

  • They are the most innovative of all kinds of face masks. You can find them in several prints and materials.
  • They can be a fashion statement. Fabric masks come with all sorts of embellishments, and thanks to their marketing, they have become a popular fashion staple among younger people.
  • They are reusable and washable. You can wash a fabric mask and use it again and again for as long as it does not show any signs of damage.
  • They are highly breathable. The soft fabrics make these masks the most comfortable among their other cousins.

What’s Bad?

  • They are not as effective at forming a barrier against Coronavirus due to their insufficient filtration capacity.
  • These masks are not fit for use in a healthcare facility.
  • They are prone to moisture.

2. Seed Masks

An incredibly innovative alternative to conventional face masks has seeds in them. Several manufacturers produce masks with seeds embedded in layers of biodegradable materials such as cotton and rice paper. The seeds germinate into a plant once you put the mask in the soil and water it.

What’s Good?

  • These masks turn into plants when discarded.
  • They disintegrate entirely into the soil.

What’s Bad?

  • Rice paper and cotton are not the most efficient at keeping out particles as tiny as a virus.

3. Hemp Masks

Hemp is a plant whose fibers can be compressed, rolled, cut, and folded into the shape of a face mask.

What’s Good?

  • They are plant-based, hence entirely biodegradable.
  • The raw materials are available and accessible.
  • They don’t cost a lot.

What’s Bad?

  • They are not as comfortable as fabric masks since they have a more rigid structure.

4. Polylactic Acid Masks


PLA masks are made of plant derivatives such as corn starch and rank as one of the best biodegradable masks present in the market for public and hospital use.

What’s Good?

  • Excellent breathability. The materials do not hinder normal breathing and are comfortable to wear.
  • Customizable fit. The nose bracket helps with the fitting around the nose and cheeks.
  • Hypoallergenic. Since these masks use all-natural ingredients, they seldom cause any reactions on the wearers’ faces.
  • Biodegradability. The materials decompose naturally without leaving a trace.
  • Effectiveness. PLA masks filter out even the tiniest particles measuring 3 to 5 nanometers.

What’s Bad?

  • Not all manufacturers produce PLA masks of top-tier quality.

Where To Find The Best Biodegradable Face Masks For Your Business?

The many benefits of PLA masks bring us to their most coveted manufacturer – Ecolive by STK Group Company.

They produce top-of-the-class PLA masks that serve their function and effectively reduce the hazardous effects of plastic face masks. All of their masks’ components are eco-friendly.

Plus, Ecolive is ideal for retailers and wholesale consumers like you because they care about your business and will help you grow. Their dealer incentives and pricing plans help you fulfill your needs while caring for the planet.

Ready to give them a shot? Get them here!