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Textiles microfibres leak past wastewater treatment

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VANCOUVER – New research estimates that around 878 tonnes of textile microfibres are washed into North American waterways every year from home laundering even after wastewater treatment, which usually catches around 95 per cent of total microfibre emissions.

These are the findings of scientists at the Ocean Wise Plastics Lab, in Vancouver, who also found a surprisingly wide range in the degree to which different textiles shed in a single home wash. Polyester fleece and knitted polyester jerseys were found to be the worst offenders when it came to shedding fibers, compared to other synthetics such as woven nylon fabrics. But interestingly, it was also found that cotton and wool textiles also shed large amounts of microfibers when washed at home.

While the research examined home laundering and the retention, fate and discharge of microfibers in secondary wastewater treatment plants, it was also pointed out that the extent of textile microfiber release into the environment through untreated domestic wastewater outlets still remains unclear.

Ecotextile News takes an advanced look at some of the findings of a new Ocean Wise report, which was undertaken with the support of clothing retailers and brands such as Patagonia, REI, MEC and Arc’teryx and which features in a more in-depth story the October (No: 93) printed edition of Ecotextile News.

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