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The ZDHC Foundation (ZDHC) is pleased to announce that it has joined The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) as its Research Member, alongside clothing brands, retailers, textile manufactures and other research organisations, to facilitate the development of science based solutions for the textile industry to minimise fibre fragmentation and release to the environment from textile manufacturing and product life cycle.
Fibre fragments, or microfibres, from both natural and synthetic sources, are of particular concern to environmentalists because of their potential for accumulation in the natural environment, including pollution of the oceans. They could also be ingested by marine life and enter the human food chain, with implications for health. The textile industry has become increasingly aware of this pressing issue.
“There is understandable concern about the release of microfibres from textiles into the environment and their potential to cause harm. This is a relatively new area of concern compared to, say chemical safety, pollution, water scarcity and climate change and the actual negative impacts are not fully understood. However it requires urgent attention and, by teaming up with ZDHC, leaders in management of harmful releases from the textile industry, and The Microfibre Consortium, leaders in understanding and mitigating microfibre formation, we have the very best chance of delivering practical solutions, at scale and at speed. I fully anticipate rapid progress” says Phil Patterson, Chair of the MRSL Advisory Council at the ZDHC Foundation and Board Chair at The Microfibre Consortium.
Sophie Mather, Executive Director of The Microfibre Consortium, adds: “By working directly with our research members, including textile suppliers, researchers and third party labs, we have already identified some great understanding about how different manufacturing processes are affecting fibre fragmentation and release.“
ZDHC and TMC will work together to address the engagement needs of the industry to grow understanding of microfibres released in wastewater from production facilities and textile finishing facilities. The two organisations will release a white paper to level the understanding of this topic prior to the launch of the ZDHC Guidelines update. Planned to launch in November, the guidelines will cover microfibres, and include testing methods and limit values to hold the industry accountable to.
Sophie Mather continues “We have done this by testing fabrics at all stages of manufacture, using the thorough and robust TMC test method. We are seeing high shed rates of fibres within wet processing, so this new relationship is very important and supportive for addressing this fast-paced topic, as it really harnesses the expertise of both ZDHC and TMC to accelerate the agenda and support the change needed.”
ZDHC will engage all its stakeholders including brands, manufacturers, textile- and leather processing units with the guidelines update to increase the understanding and urgency of the issue whilst providing support through its platforms and solutions.
“Working to minimise fibre fragmentation to the environment is an important part of the ZDHC mission to implement sustainable chemical management practices across the fashion industry and we're looking forward to collaborating with TMC. This collaboration will help us scale the type of solutions called for in the recent study by The Nature Conservancy and Bain & Company ‘Toward Eliminating Pre-consumer Emissions of Microplastics from the Textile Industry’ ” says Scott Echols, Senior Roadmap to Zero Programme Director, the ZDHC Foundation.
About The Microfibre Consortium (TMC)
Following the formation and management of The Outdoor Microfibre Consortium by the European Outdoor Group in 2017, The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) was founded as a stand-alone organisation in November 2018, reflecting the increasing importance of the topic and broadening membership of the consortium. TMC facilitates the collaborative development of practical solutions for the textile industry to minimise microfibre release to the environment from textile manufacturing and product life cycle. The consortium now has a membership that incorporates a diverse range of outdoor, fashion, sport and home textiles, brands, retailers and suppliers, and its work is managed by a UK based team of seven that is led by executive director Sophie Mather. The TMC Board is chaired by Phil Patterson and includes representatives from across the global textile industry.
The full list of TMC members can be found at the TMC website.