Over a half-million tons of plastic microfibers spill into the oceans every year in the form of washing machine wastewater. This accounts for 35% of all microplastics in the environment, making clothing and textiles the world’s number-one source of microplastic pollution.
To help washing machine manufacturers meet new and emerging regulations aimed at eliminating plastic microfiber pollution in global waterways, ecosystems and food chains, GKD - Gebr. Kufferath AG, Düren/Germany, a leading mesh filtration manufacturer and Cleanr Inc., Cleveland, OH/USA, a developer of advanced microplastics filtering technologies, have teamed up. The companies will collaborate in the development, engineering and manufacturing of Cleanr’s solutions, which efficiently filter microplastics (particles smaller than 5 mm in length) from residential, commercial and industrial washing machine wastewater.
The patent-pending technology from Cleanr can be applied as an external filter or readily integrated into modern washing machine designs as a pre-installed solution. The technology has been shown to capture over 90% of microplastic fibers larger than 50 µm in size. The company also offers a consumer-friendly dry disposal mechanism that prevents hands-on contact with microfiber waste and prevents waste from being washed down the drain.
Without intervention, current levels of global microplastic pollution are set to rise dramatically over the coming decades. Recent research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that the accumulation of plastic waste emitted from clothing and other textiles is on course to double by 2050.
A number of large governments are studying the problem and developing new rules to curb the flow of plastic microfibers from washing machines into waterways. Beginning in January 2025, France will require all new washing machines sold in-country to include a microplastic-filtration solution. Meanwhile, members of the UK parliament, California, Illinois, and Oregon state legislators in the USA, and provincial legislators in Ottawa/Canada are working through similar proposals, with other governments around the world following suit. This autumn, the state of California will begin a pilot test for microplastics in its drinking water, and New Jersey/USA is working through a proposal to provide rebates of up to US$100 to residents who purchase microfiber washing-machine filters.