Microfibres are everywhere: our food, water, and even the air we breathe. As a subset of microplastics, an estimated 35 percent of all plastics that end up in our oceans come from textile microfibres, of which the fashion and apparel industry is a major contributor. Worryingly, latest research indicates that microplastics are harmful to human and marine health, though the extent of its impact is yet to be fully grasped.
While there are consumer solutions that can reduce the amount of microfibres shed during washing such as lint traps, we also need to look upstream at the manufacturing processes in order to truly tackle the problem from end to end.
Can we reduce the amount of microfibre shed when our clothes are made? How can we understand the impact of manufacturing processes on microfibre shed?
The UNDP Ocean Innovation project, Tackling Microfibres at Source, led by Forum for the Future in partnership with Ramatex Group, Nanyang Environment and Water Resources Institute (NEWRI), and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), sets out to develop solutions to reduce microfibre shedding during the manufacturing process.
By understanding which manufacturing processes have the greatest impact on microfibre shed, Forum provides opportunities for industry innovation and the development of pioneering solutions that can tackle microfibre pollution. Doing so will enable steps towards a more just and regenerative fashion industry, where waste and pollution are designed out.
Learnings and insights from this project will be disseminated across the fashion industry pre-competitively in order to accelerate change and support manufacturer-driven innovation in Southeast Asia. It will also highlight the role of manufacturers as changemakers that can make a positive difference to environmental issues caused by the fashion industry.
Download the official report and join the capstone event on 13 February which will feature the outputs and outcomes of this groundbreaking research supported by UNDP, Sida and Norad, and that concluded in November 2022.