Call for textile sector to spearhead microplastics standards | Apparel Industry News

Mircoplastics have become a controversial topic in recent years Testing firm Eurofins Softlines and Leather has released a white paper outlining research into the shedding of microplastics from textiles, and calls on the industry to spearhead standards and methods to assess and address their impact. The paper, entitled: ‘Microplastics from […]

Mircoplastics have become a controversial topic in recent years

Mircoplastics have become a controversial topic in recent years

Testing firm Eurofins Softlines and Leather has released a white paper outlining research into the shedding of microplastics from textiles, and calls on the industry to spearhead standards and methods to assess and address their impact.

The paper, entitled: ‘Microplastics from textile sources – Understanding the characteristics of microplastics shedding from simulated domestic laundry through quantification‘, reveals how global fibre production has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and is expected to continue in the next decade, reaching 145m MT in 2030.

Mircoplastics, referred to as particles of plastic smaller than 5mm, have become a controversial topic in recent years as more and more scientific researches expose the potential risks of microplastics to the human body, the ecosystem and the environment. Researches by different institutes and organisations have indicated that the quantity of microplastics discovered in water bodies as well as human bodies is rising.

Of current fibre production globally, – 107m MT in 2018 – 62% can be attributed to production of synthetic fibres. Further, 35% of primary microplastics originate from garment laundry.

Yet Eurofins says that given the lack of industry standards and regulation on textile-related microplastics release, it is challenging for the industry to measure its real impact and look for meaningful solutions.

The company has developed an offering that assesses microplastics shedding quantification from textile products during simulated domestic laundry. Samples undergo simulated domestic washing (from single wash to multiple wash) in a controlled environment. Liquid is filtered to collect residue for analysis.

Based on close to 600 samples assessed, Eurofins found that fabrics and garments made with yarns containing fibres of longer lengths shed less particles into water. The results also showed that the length of fibres shed in higher quantities are those that are between 0.45 µm and below 50 µm in measurement. These fibres are produced from one to ten washing cycles.

When comparing fabrics of the same composition and with similar weight, it cannot be concluded yet that the construction of the fabric directly results in a larger volume of microplastics being shed.

Eurofins says it is publishing the analysis in the hope of supporting the development of impactful solutions to this challenge.

“The textile industry, as well as polymer-related industries, is at the front lie of a new environmental challenge which will require cooperation by all stakeholders in the supply chain in order to minimise the risks of microplastics to ourselves, our future generations and the environment,” it says.

“Standard and methods to assess the impact of microplastics, and most importantly, solutions should be spearheaded by a consolidation effort at each step of the supply chain – from manufacturing more durable and shed-resistant products, to reducing the amount of microplastics reaching water bodies.”

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