LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, June 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Microfiber pollution awareness is spreading into the mainstream. More than half of consumers (56%) already know that washing clothes harms the environment, according to a survey released by PlanetCare as part of World Oceans Day.
Microfibers are tiny plastic particles that synthetic clothes shed during washing. Up to 1,500,000 microfibers are released per wash. Without anything to stop them, microfibers enter wastewater, causing damage to the ecosystems.
The growing awareness is also important because we are learning more about the health risks of microfiber ingestion for humans. Polyester and nylon microfibers, for instance, could stunt the ability of the lungs to repair themselves, one research paper discovered.
Key survey findings:
- Consumers want action from washing machine producers: 97% of participants believe that washing machines should have an in-built microfiber filter. Currently, no such washing machine exists on the market.
- The next purchase - an environmentally friendlier washing machine: if washers with built-in filters existed, an overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents would buy one.
- Consumers are willing to share the costs: 85% of survey participants would pay more for a washing machine that captures microfibers. Of that group, 29% would spend extra 10-20 dollars, 36% are willing to increase their budgets by 20 to 50 dollars, while 18% are ready to spend between 50 to 100 dollars more.
The global survey, conducted by PlanetCare in April 2021, consisted of an online survey of 32,800 participants. The majority of respondents (63%) came from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia.
"The results of the survey are a surprise to us - but in a very positive way. A lot more people care about microfiber pollution than we've expected," says Mojca Zupan, co-founder and CEO of PlanetCare, a company that developed the world's first microfiber filter.
Echoing the survey results, Zupan compares the responsibility of the washing machine producers to car manufacturers. "The latter also have to install catalytic converters to reduce the emissions. Washers should come with already installed components that reduce negative environmental impact as well."
"We believe that the washing machine is the most convenient place to stop microfiber pollution. And in the future, we see all washing machines equipped with efficient filters," she says.
Mojca Zupan left her career of a corporate lawyer and founded PlanetCare in 2017. The Slovenian-based company developed a microfiber filter that, according to independent tests, captures 90 percent of microfibers. The filter is compatible with all washing machines. PlanetCare also refurbishes the cartridges and is set to recycle caught microfibers. The company is funded by the EIC Accelerator and has twice won the "Best solution award" by the Swedish EPA.