The story behind the invention

When customer and employee protection is a top-level issue

POLIFILM shareholder Christian Runkel talks about how he came up with the idea for the film, his employees’ motivation and why the topic of antivirals will still be with us after the pandemic.

Mr Runkel, what was the driver behind your idea?
For us at POLIFILM, it is important to always keep our finger on the pulse of current developments and to actively look for solutions for current and future customer needs. It was therefore obvious to me that we should also do our bit to help contain this pandemic. I was also looking for the best way of protecting our employees against infections at work.

How did you then turn your idea into a film with antiviral properties?
It was important to me to help out by providing something that we excel at: Films. Protection is the core feature here, regardless of whether we are talking about protective films in the classic sense or stretch film to secure load units. We have been successfully producing antibacterial films for years, making them into so-called “tacky mats”. These mats are placed in areas requiring high standards of hygiene to remove bacteria from the soles of people’s shoes. Put simply, the only thing we had to do was transfer this technology to viruses.

How did you manage that?
With the help of all the members of our development teams working together on an international basis. In this way, the pandemic was both a curse and a driver at the same time because everyone was able to identify with this issue – our colleagues in Israel through to our team in Saxony-Anhalt. Everybody was affected in the same way, taking motivation to a totally different level. Thanks to a close exchange of know-how and experience it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion to use silver ions to reduce pathogens and to start a test production run.

What was the biggest challenge?
To find a lab with spare capacities to test its effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2. Standard tests to confirm its antibacterial effectiveness against E.coli and S.aureus were available at short notice but labs able to test for the prevalent virus, especially in the earlier stages of the pandemic when we first started, were not. This restricted us as far as marketing was concerned. Had it been up to me, we wouldn’t have wasted any time.

To what extent is there a future for this solution? After all, we all hope that this pandemic will soon be over.
Believe me, that’s what we are fervently hoping for too. Something that will definitely never be over though is the presence of pathogens on surfaces. Although we are all counting on these having far less drastic effects than Corona, there will still be plenty of germs around resulting in infections. A permanently high standard of hygiene will therefore be mandatory in the future too and our solutions will contribute to this.

Do your customers think the same way, or will it be an “out of sight, out of mind” solution?
We already keep hearing voices on the market which illustrate that antiviral films are more than a mere interim measure. Many companies are looking for solutions to create cleaner workspaces for the long term to reduce the risk of in-house infections resulting in workplace sickness.  Cue: Sick Days.

This means antiviral films don’t just fight Corona?
No, the technology we employ can serve to reduce a multitude of viruses on surfaces.

Can you give us some examples?
This mainly involves common pathogens of the enveloped virus type. We will publish an exact overview as soon as we have the final test results.

Cue: The future – what’s the first thing you will do once the pandemic is over?
Return to eating out at restaurants and travel and hopefully encounter many application examples of our films whilst doing so.