Design boutique Morrama supports plastic-free rapid test production

14 September 2023 3 min. read

London-based design and innovation consultancy Morrama is working to help reduce the carbon footprint of lateral flow tests. The plastic use for the tests is currently estimated as resulting in 25,000 tonnes of waste each year.

There are various impacts to public health and wellbeing which come from the insistence that people should just ‘live with’ Covid-19 now. Among them, the continued efforts required to identify coronavirus cases will have a mounting impact on the environment, in terms of single-use plastics.

Lateral flow tests has already been vital part of diagnostics for decades, from pregnancy to plant health – but they were really thrust into the limelight during the Covid-19 pandemic. With demand for them surging, suddenly the fact so little has changed about their production since their conception has become a problem.

Design boutique Morrama supports plastic-free rapid test production

Given there are over two billion lateral flow immunoassays manufactured annually and the market is set to grow from $43 billion in 2022 to $72 billion by 2024, there is an increased need to consider the environmental impact of lateral flow tests. It is estimated that there are 25,000 tonnes of plastic produced globally for rapid testing every year, with an average test containing 10-15 grams of single use virgin plastic. 

With the global push to minimise the environmental impact of single-use products, design consultancy Morrama has partnered with Abingdon Health to finally update the technology. Under the name Eco-Flo Innovations, Morrama and Abingdon Health are aiming to make their first plastic free, compostable cassette available to customers within the next 12 months.

Jo Barnard, founder and creative director at Morrama said, “The development of Eco-Flo represents a vital step forward in reducing the environmental impacts of lateral flow testing and we are incredibly excited to have Abingdon Health on board to accelerate this development and bring their years of expertise into the project. This could offer a simpler, more accessible, and more sustainable option, designed with people and the planet in mind.”

Based in Hackney, Morrama is a boutique innovation consultancy of 11 experts. Since 2015, the firm has worked with start-ups and established businesses looking for a fast-paced design process; combining user experience, manufacturing feasibility and sustainability considerations. Recent examples of this include work with Wagamama to improve the sustainability of the diner’s takeaway packaging, and collaboration with PPK to produce a new range of re-usable cosmetics packaging.

Joining forces with Abingdon Health – a developer and manufacturer of high-quality rapid lateral flow tests – Morrama is now seeking to accelerate the development of a plastic free lateral flow immunoassay. The brand-new plastic free cassette named Eco-Flo will be manufactured in the UK, utilising renewable plant fibre moulding technology that reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to the equivalent single use plastic. In addition, the Eco-Flo Innovations team are already exploring ways to remove or switch out the remaining plastic content in tests that require a swab or pipette.

Chris Yates, CEO of Abingdon Health, added, “We are delighted to be partnering with Morrama to support the development of innovative, environmentally friendlier components and packing solutions for the lateral flow industry. Alongside Jo and the team at Morrama, we are keen to lead this change and provide our customers with viable sustainable alternatives to the traditional materials currently used.”