Turkey-based home appliance manufacturer Arçelik just developed a new washing machine, which targets and captures the microplastic fibres released during the washing process. While fast fashion continues to manufacture more plastic-based garments, in the process contributing to the global plastic pollution crisis, more companies are trying to come up with solutions to the problem – for both our planet and to keep conscious consumers spending. Brands such as Arçelik are among the many companies setting an example to innovate for good.
Turkish company Arçelik, who specialise in manufacturing home appliances, has just announced a new washing machine that helps to keep microplastics and microfibres from entering and polluting our waterways and oceans. The washing machine is fitted with a multilayered filter that can capture 90% of the 1 million tiny plastic particle fibres released from clothes in each load of laundry. When water gets pushed out through the filter at the end of each cycle, the fibres get caught inside, preventing them from being flushed into our pipes, entering sewers and eventually the ocean.
This is one of the important solutions to our current plastic pollution crisis. While it may come as a surprise to some, many of our clothes – especially those produced by fast fashion companies – contain plastics. According to a Common Objective report, 60% of the world’s garments are made from oil, which gets turned into commonly used fabrics such as polyester and nylon. When these materials are washed, tiny microfibres of plastic get released into our water systems, and in our oceans, which then ends up being ingested by marine life and people.
The company currently sells products in 146 countries, and will be releasing these washing machines next year. In order to amplify the positive impact that the company has developed with its new microplastic filter washing machine, Arçelik will be open-sourcing their technology to allow other companies to also adopt this solution. In an IFA conference in September, Hakan Bulguru, the CEO of Arçelik said the company “invites our competition to use this technology.” He added that as “more of these [are made], the cost will come down and become more accessible,” which can help consumers adapt to help preserve the planet.
Especially as even more data is being published, adding onto the plethora of existing research on the dire state of plastic pollution, solutions such as these are much needed. In a study just released by the San Francisco Aquatic Science Center, trillions of microplastics were found in the San Francisco bay area. The three-year study marks the most comprehensive study to date, and reveals the severity microplastic pollution with evidence that much of these fibres collected from the 40 sewage treatment plants come from synthetic fibres in clothing, such as fleece jackets.
Other organisations and businesses have also come up with new innovations to intervene in microplastics at different levels of the pollution process. Vermont-based company Cora Ball, for instance, have created a laundry ball that collects microfibres in the washing process so people can keep these plastics out of the ocean and GuppyFriend by NGO Stop! Micro Fibre has a laundry bag you can put in your machine to keep microfibers out of waterways. On the other end, Dutch non-profit Ocean Cleanup has recently unveiled its new version of their giant cleanup prototype for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has managed to capture microplastics alongside massive ghost nets to capture bigger plastic items.
Lead image courtesy of Arçelik.