An ‘Omtanke’ Collaboration: For the People and the Planet

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Launch of the Volvo Batik Reusable Facemasks uplifts local communities

Volvo Car Malaysia, Three Little Ahmads and NanoTextile have come together to launch a collection of anti-microbial facemasks, known collectively as the ‘Volvo Batik Reusable Facemasks’. In addition to bringing more sustainable alternatives to disposable facemasks, the project employs the workmanship of local communities to support their livelihoods after facing unemployment and adversities due to the pandemic.

Locally designed by Three Little Ahmads – a Malaysian-founded children’s clothing brand and social enterprise – the facemasks are ethically sourced, made and produced by single mothers, women in rural neighbourhoods and GIATMara vocational alumnus, whose jobs were displaced due to retail factory closures during the Malaysian Movement Control Order in March 2020, resulting in some of them having to pawn off the jewellery they had received as dowries to make ends meet.

Hence, for each face mask produced, an individual from this target community group is fairly compensated. To date, the income from the production of these facemasks have not only provided these women with a stable source of income but also earned them enough to buy back all their jewellery from the pawnshop.

Akhtar Sulaiman, Marketing and PR Director of Volvo Car Malaysia, said: “This collaboration truly falls in line with Volvo’s core philosophy of ‘Omtanke’, which is a Swedish word and Volvo’s brand ethos that means ‘to care’ and ‘to be considerate’. We are honoured to lend a helping hand to our local communities and sustain their livelihoods, especially during these economically challenging and vulnerable times.”

Sustainable and Fashionable

‘Omtanke’ also defines Volvo’s approach to sustainability, where its care for others extends to the planet as well. As an automotive company with one of the most ambitious climate goals in the industry, Volvo Cars is committed to protecting and improving the environment and wider society. One of the impending environmental concerns to come out from the current pandemic is the disposal of single-use surgical masks, which could end up in the landfill or the oceans as nano-plastics.

Recognising disposable masks as a fast-growing environmental concern, the three-way partnership produces reusable fabric facemasks with a unique Batik Tekap pattern as a tribute to the Malaysian art heritage.

Datin Azrene Ahmad, Founder and Fashion Designer at Three Litte Ahmads, said: “When we received the brief from Volvo Car Malaysia, we took a more contemporary spin by creating one-of-a-kind Batik stamps based on three flowers: sunflower, stargazer lily and jasmine – flowers that are not normally seen in traditional batik. With the help of nanotechnology and innovation, the facemasks are both safe and fashionable for public use. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Volvo Car Malaysia and NanoTextile that mobilises the talent of our local communities and enables them a source of income; at the same time, showcase a line of uniquely designed facemasks that are made for Malaysians to protect themselves.”

Thoughtfully-made with Technology

Each facemask made with the wearer’s health in mind. Thoughtfully designed and assembled by hand, each mask is made up of 100 per cent cotton, anti-bacterial, water-repellent and provides bacterial and viral protection up to 100 gentle washes.

NanoTextile, the company behind the facemask’s anti-bacterial qualities, is a progressive textile company in Malaysia that offers leading technology solutions in textile production. Taking into account cost, production wastage, product lifespan and potential health risks, NanoTextile employs nanotechnology to reduce the penetration of contaminated droplets and prevent possible infection of the fabric by viruses or bacteria. The addition of a PM 2.5 filter provides a fifth layer of protection and is tested to effectively filter out 90 per cent of viral particles.

Dr Thomas Ong, Chief Executive Offer of NanoTextile, said: “Nanotechnology opens the door to a whole new way of processing materials in the textile industry. We’re looking at better quality fabrics made from a greater variety of materials, including nano-plastics. Through this partnership, we hope to showcase the potential of nanotechnology as one of the solutions to environmental pollution, and also that in producing better quality materials, people will be able to treat them as premium curated items that can last them many uses and for a long time.”

“Climate change is a big problem to address alone, but together with like-minded organisations, brands and people, we can make an impactful difference to our community and the planet. We hope that through this partnership, we can inspire Malaysians to make more sustainable choices for the sake of our planet,” Akhtar concluded.

The Volvo Batik Reusable Facemasks comes in a set of three, with two available size options – medium and large. Each set comes in three colour variations, which are Dark Blue (sunflower), Navy Blue (stargazer lily), and Sky Blue (jasmine). Retailing at RM99 per set, the facemasks are currently available for purchase at Volvo dealerships nationwide.

For more information about the Volvo Batik Reusable Facemasks, please visit https://www.volvocars.com/my/volvo-branded-face-mask or follow Volvo Car Malaysia on Facebook http://bit.ly/VolvoMY-FB and Instagram http://bit.ly/VolvoMY-IG for more updates.

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