Nearly 40,000 protective face shields produced by the Georgian company CaucasPack will be provided to frontline healthcare staff, local civil servants and other at-risk personnel in Tbilisi and Georgia’s regions through programmes implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The first 16,000 shields will be distributed this week as part of a joint programme of the European Union and the UN in support of a competitive private sector in Georgia.
“I am happy that the EU can help contribute to a further 40,000 face masks for the men and women working on the front lines of dealing with this pandemic. I am also pleased that they are produced by a Georgian company, which has adapted to meet the new challenges,” said Carl Hartzell, the EU Ambassador to Georgia. “Local production is vital for the economy and to meet the continued need for protective supplies.”
“With global supply chains overloaded and cross-border procurement impeded, we’re delighted to see Georgian manufacturers rise to the challenge,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “CaucasPack is just one example of how local producers have stepped up to provide the protective gear that healthcare workers and civil servants need to stay safe during the pandemic, rescuing jobs and livelihoods in the process.”
In the coming weeks, UNDP in partnership with the Governments of Switzerland and Austria will purchase another 23,000 shields for distribution through partner civil society organizations in 23 municipalities, including those in southern and mountainous regions where the COVID-19 outbreak has hit the hardest.
The face shields manufactured by CaucasPack are produced from recycled plastic bottles, and are adjustable and reusable. In normal times, the Rustavi-based company produces plastic cups and food containers. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it adjusted its production lines to make face shields. This shift enables the company to keep its staff of 99 employed despite the broader pandemic shutdown.
CaucasPack is one of an array of Georgian companies repurposing their production lines on short notice to battle the pandemic. Many, especially in the packaging sector, are supported by the EU and UN as part of the wider EU4Business programme, which promotes private sector development in Georgia.
Later in May, the EU and UNDP will release the results of a study that weighs the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Georgia’s packaging value chain, offering insights and recommendations on response strategies.