Capturing fibres by wastewater treatment plants is not viable. They are not designed to do so. Other pathways are: implementing innovative technologies and additives for laundry
processes and textile finishing treatments.
Washing machine filter for plastic fibres
Washing machines are a major source of microplastics pollution
Irish ecologist Dr. Mark Antony Browne of the University College in Dublin was the first to publish about this issue. The article, “Accumulations of micro plastic on shorelines worldwide: sources and sinks” was published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal in 2011. His research found that a single synthetic item of clothing could generate more than 1900 fibres in only one wash. The study also found that neither washing machines nor filtration plants are equipped to filter out these fibres, invisible to the naked eye. With a growing world population, the more people use these synthetic textiles, the more the environment, animals and people will be contaminated.
Plastic fibres are everywhere. German Professor Gerd Liebezeit (University of Oldenburg) found them in honey, tap water, air, beer and mineral water. It is suspected that these fibres originate from plastic clothing. Fleece clothing is a notable culprit. The fibres of synthetic textiles are so small that they can easily end up in the food chain.
A few years ago, an innovator started developing a washing machine filter to prevent the frequent blockage of septic tanks due to clothing fibres from washing machine waste water. To solve this problem, the innovator developed an efficient but also practical filter. It is already used by more than 1300 units. This Innovation drew the attention of scientists who had already been studying the pollution of the environment by clothing fibres for some time. Through direct collaboration between the innovator and the scientists, the system will now be refined and applied to washing machines that discharge into wastewater systems.
This washing machine filter is a perfect product in combination with the Life+ program. This program is, with the participation of the Plastic Soup Foundation, looking at how clothes can be handled or treated in order to reduce the generation of microfibers.
Additives for fibre conservation
The second phase of the project (B) is already on-going. During this stage implementation of innovative textile and detergent additives for a better fibre conservation are being investigated.
Read more about it here.