Interview with Clemens Eichler: Coronavirus garbage bag innovation

31 March 2021

Mr. Eichler, why did a garbage bag have to be developed specifically for Corona waste?

Clemens Eichler: When the pandemic began, there was concern that contaminated waste could not be properly disposed of from hospitals. Hospitals have built up a hygiene and waste management system over many years. The waste management system is usually not in the hands of the hospital. There are disposal companies that pick up the waste; these are well-established processes. Behind this is an incineration plant. Hospital waste is hazardous waste and must be disposed of accordingly. Therefore, there was a lot of concern from the disposal companies about burning a loose bag of contaminated medical material like bulk waste. In addition, each county handles this differently and there are different regulations everywhere. 

How did DEISS learn of the demand for a special trash bag?

We have sales managers and product managers who collect and evaluate information from customers and current market developments. Medically contaminated material was otherwise always disposed of using solid, small containers, but the volume that emerged in the wake of the pandemic would have overloaded this system. The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing responded quickly and issued this order, allowing us to manufacture this product.

How quickly did it then take to get to market?

The development phase took a relatively short time. You have to see this in the context that we were already working on thinner trash bags at the time. In order to be able to guarantee that, we worked with high-performance polymers, so that even with a lower wall thickness, high performance is given. We had already developed that at the time, so we were able to quickly implement the specifications for the Corona garbage bag within three, four weeks.

How could you react so quickly?

We were able to react so quickly because we were prepared. We develop new products of course always together with research partners to be able to respond so quickly to demands. However, it must also be said that the testing was quick because there was a high level of willingness on all sides to implement quickly. This enabled us to bring our product to market quickly, including certification.

How successful was the Corona bag?

We have already sold over 700,000 of the bags. The RKI has changed its regulations during the crisis, so that, for example, dry Corona waste can also be disposed of in normal garbage bags. This has of course reduced the initial rush for the Corona bag, but we continue to sell the bag on an ongoing basis.