Microfibers and a pact to reduce them

Materials and Products

The amount of microfibers in the environment is continuously increasing and traces of them have been found even in extreme locations such as the slopes of Mount Everest and in the ice of Antarctica. Mitigation of this pollutant is only possible with action by individuals and agreement between industrial players.

According to recent studies, about 2 million tons of microfibers are released into the world’s oceans. They come from various sources such as the fragmentation of fishing nets and illegal discharges, but also from the discharges of domestic washing. A survey carried out in all the main seas and oceans of the world has shown that about 79.5% of the microfibers are of cellulosic origin, mainly cotton, and 12.5% of animal origin, mainly wool.
What damage this particular type of pollutant causes and will cause is still not entirely clear. What is known for sure is that these fibers can accumulate in plankton-forming microorganisms and then move up the entire food chain to human beings.
But what can we do to reduce this type of pollution? According to the Northumbria University of Newcastle, changing one’s home washing habits by decreasing the temperature, duration and power of the washing cycle could reduce the release of microfibers by 30%.
This change on a personal level must also be associated with action by manufacturing industries. The Microfibre Consortium has been set up to investigate how to solve this problem at the production level. To date, around 70 major companies have joined the Consortium and have committed to achieving ambitious targets by 2030 set out in a detailed Roadmap:
– Reach at least 250 subscribers to the consortium;
– Establish a “Microfiber Knowledge Hub” to serve as a reference point for the study of this issue;
– Fund research to understand the mechanisms of fragmentation;
– 80% of signatories will adopt the strategies identified to reduce fragmentation.
This is an example of how environmental issues can be addressed: there is a need for action both by the individual citizen, who is informed and committed to mitigating their impact, and by the manufacturing industries with the sharing of knowledge and resources.
Centrocot performs tests for the determination of fibers released from textile products with test methods in line with the Draft Standards currently discussed in ISO Working Groups.

 

For more information:

For Laboratory Testing
Simona Bellan – Ecological Laboratory
simona.bellan@centrocot.it

For further information on the contents of the article
Francesco Dellino – Multisectoral Research and Innovation Area
francesco.dellino@centrocot.it

Author: Francesco Dellino

Centrocot Multisectioral Research and Innovation Dept.