A revolutionary, eco-friendly wool based packaging system will save lives around the world and create new jobs in Staffordshire.
Woolcool will officially open its new factory in Stone on July 3. Around 25 jobs have been created with a further 25 planned by the end of the year.
Using 100 per cent pure, clean wool that is too coarse for clothing or other textiles, the company has devised a unique and innovative way of keeping medicines and food cool for longer.
This means temperature sensitive medicines can be kept at the optimum 2-8⁰C during transportation across the globe, solving a crucial problem which has led to around 50 per cent of vaccines being unusable on arrival at their destination.
“Woolcool is making pharmaceutical companies rethink their packaging and this will save lives,” said Managing Director, Keith Spilsbury.
“The World Health Organisation states that failings in cold chain distribution can make up to 50 per cent of certain vaccines unusable. Using pure washed and scoured wool, we have devised an insulated packaging liner that keeps the medicines at the correct temperature for twice as long as the industry standards.
“Woolcool hugely outperforms synthetic insulation, such as polystyrene, and is of course extremely environmentally friendly.”
It was that quest for environmentally friendly food packaging, while working on a project with the National Trust, which led to Woolcool’s invention.
Woolcool’s founder Angela Morris, a packaging design expert, had been challenged by the National Trust to produce sustainable packaging to enable farmers to safely transport their chilled meat products.
The Eureka moment came when she decided to compare wool, a natural insulator, against conventional man-made packaging materials such as polystyrene and polyethylene. In scientific temperature trials, wool simply outperformed the man-made materials by a country mile.
Following a long period of further research and development, Woolcool food packaging was launched in 2008. The unique product consists of a cooling pack with a slab of needle-felted wool inside a recyclable film liner. The liner is full of tiny holes, allowing the wool to breathe and so create a controlled mini-climate within the pack.
“It may seem counter intuitive because we associate wool with warmth but wool naturally keeps sheep warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” explained Keith.
“A Woolcool lined box keeps perishable products cooler for longer than man-made polystyrene. Unlike polystyrene, the packs are reusable and recyclable and the wool fleece we use is too coarse for use in clothing, and we are, therefore, providing an extremely practical use for what might otherwise be seen as a waste material.”
In 2012, Woolcool received Government support for research into developing the product for use in the pharmaceutical sector and this has led to the creation of Woolcool ‘LifeGuardian’ packaging and the opening of the new plant at Walton, Stone.
“This research has proven beyond doubt that our new Woolcool LifeGuardian product can keep pharmaceutical products between 2-8⁰C for up to 150 hours, more than double the 72 hours that is the accepted standard.”
As a result, Woolcool is now expanding its markets from food to pharmaceuticals and has a growing range of clients producing vaccines and medicines for both humans and veterinary use.
One client, Henry Schein, uses Woolcool to deliver sheep vaccine wrapped in wool packaging.
Woolcool’s offices are based in the grounds of Oakley Hall, a stately home on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border near Market Drayton.
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