Plastic Soup Foundation is a global non-profit organization raising awareness about plastic pollution. Whether it is fighting microbeads in personal care products with Beat the Microbead Campaign, taking up single use plastic with Plastic Supermarket, ensuring cleaner rivers or fighting plastic microfibers with Ocean Clean Wash Campaign they have creatively informed the public about plastic related problems. Plastic Soup Foundation is led by larger than life lady Maria Westerbos an expert of mass communication who is passionately working on turning complex problems into much better solutions.
This year the Foundation has also led the international workshop on tackling microfiber pollution with a great mix of people from corporations, SMEs and academia. The crowd was informed on the latest microfiber research and on short, mid and long term solutions aiming to solve the problem.
Research on Microfibers
Following the introduction from Maria, the CEO of Plastic Soup Foundation, a Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University Richard Thompson OBE came on stage. Much of Richard’s work over the last 20 years has focused on researching marine litter with numerous publications on this topic. He was a co-author of the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive text on marine litter. He has been a member of numerous international working groups on marine litter including GESAMP, NCEAS, UNEP, UNIRP. In 2004 his team reported on the presence of microplastics in the environment in the journal Science. Subsequent research examined the extent to which microplastics were retained upon ingestion and potential for microplastics to transport pollutants to organisms. In his talk professor reported that around 75% of ocean litter is plastic, with other materials such as glass and metal representing only a small proportion of litter in the oceans.
Professor Barbro Melgert from the University of Groningen talked about her ongoing research on microplastics in the air we breath and the pollutant’s effect on our lungs. Microplastics were distributed throughout lung tissue in 87% of the tested specimens. Professor has mentioned that an average family home accumulates about 20kg of dust at home per year. 30% of fibers indoors are plastic and they are laced with ~ 45 toxic chemicals, bacteria and mold. She also mentioned the previous research done on the new occupational respiratory disease caused by synthetic fibers in nylon tights producing factory.
Solutions Aiming to Tackle Microfiber Pollution
Among short term solutions were pectin coating developed by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and a Planet Care washing machine filter. Dr. Maurizio Avella from CNR mentioned that pectin coating can be added to the yarn and could potentially prevent approximately 80% of microfiber release. CNR also tested the Slovenian Startup’s Planet care washing machine filter and found that up to 80% of the fibers were caught before entering the wastewater.
Among the mid and long term solutions were Upset and Amberoot. Pals Brust, the Founder of Upset said that his company was aiming to guarantee the use of 100% recycled materials in a controlled, transparent, circular and socially responsible textile value chain. He was glad to let the audiences know about their first project currently being undertaken in India. Gintare Matuzaite, the Founder of Amberoot ended the presentations with a talk of fundamentally and absolutely moving away from plastic (synthetic) clothing. Synthetic clothing is toxic to human health from the beginning (extracted from fossil fuels), during use (microfiber release while washing, rubbing) to the end of its life (less than 1% of clothes worldwide are recycled). Consequently, she draw audiences’ attention to Amberoot’s Material Environmental Sustainability Rankings Tool aiding in choosing the most and least environmentally friendly materials.
Make sure to checkout the Plastic Soup Foundation page.
Checkout 100% organic cotton T-shirts raising awareness about the plastic pollution by another great Dutch organization – Searious Business on Amberoot online multi-brand zero plastic fabric clothing shop.