A Call to Action on Microfibers

The Microfibre Consortium issues rallying cry for textile industry to adapt manufacturing to better control microfibers in wastewater.

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) has issued a call to action to the textile industry to better control microfibers in wastewater during the production of apparel. TMC has released a positioning statement on the topic and is calling on businesses that operate in the textile sector to get involved and support the development and roll out of new internationally accepted manufacturing guidelines. TMC’s positioning statement precedes the publication of ‘Control of Microfibres in Wastewater’, a document that will be the latest tool for manufacturers to use as part of meaningful, science-based, coordinated action on fiber fragmentation from natural and synthetic textiles.

Control of Microfibres in Wastewater is a new document that will be available to signatories of the Microfibre 2030 Commitment in early May. It is the result of an extensive two-year development process led by TMC’s manufacturing task team and involving partners from across the industry. Designed to help companies better control microfibers in wastewater during the production of apparel, the preliminary guidelines in the document identify an approach that can be taken throughout the supply chain, to best support change within manufacturing.

The scope includes industrial wastewater discharge produced within the operations of textile, apparel and footwear suppliers with wet processing facilities. TMC has engaged with organizations throughout the global textile sector to develop the preliminary guidelines and is urging companies around to get involved in the initiative and then incorporate the guidelines into their manufacturing processes. As understanding improves, TMC will continue to work with the industry to revise and enhance the guidelines that will be presented in the document.

Dr Kelly Sheridan, head of research at The Microfibre Consortium, comments: “Huge strides to develop the guidelines had already been made by the manufacturing task team when I joined TMC from academia. Getting involved part way through the work has given me the opportunity to look at it with fresh eyes, which has allowed me to combine my experience of writing and reviewing scientific publications with my forensic science background. This will ensure that the manufacturing guidelines are not only valid scientifically, but are also simply communicated from top to bottom, through policy makers to manufacturers, to provide an aligned action plan.”

In developing the guidelines, TMC has recognized that the apparel industry is responsible for fiber fragmentation from textiles at both the consumer level, and within the manufacturing process. The consortium and its partners are pursuing a portfolio approach to addressing the issue, for which Control of Microfibres in Wastewater will be the latest contribution. The implementation of wastewater management at a facility level is a complementary action to the root cause mitigation that can be undertaken at the textile design and development level, all intended to prevent loss from occurring.

Following the publication of Control of Microfibres in Wastewater, TMC hopes that there will be wide, cross industry adoption of the preliminary guidelines. Support throughout the global supply chain will allow for an aligned and industry wide adoption of best practices that can achieve the greatest impact in a timely manner.

Sophie Mather, executive director, adds: “To achieve substantive, long term change in the industry we need a critical mass of action across the supply chain. Control of Microfibres in Wastewater can be a key step towards securing that, but only if companies are prepared to commit to the manufacturing guidelines within the document. We’ve issued our positioning statement now to encourage organizations to follow our lead, get in touch, and help us to keep scaling up the work of the textile industry in addressing the issues of fibre fragmentation at key stages of the product lifecycle.”

Control of Microfibres in Wastewater will initially be available to signatories of the Microfibre 2030 Commitment from Friday 6 May. To discuss the document in more detail, and the wider work of The Microfibre Consortium, please contact findoutmore@mirofibreconsortium.com.


About The Microfibre Consortium

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) is a research-led sustainable textiles NGO, working to convene the global textiles sector through The Microfibre 2030 Commitment and Roadmap. It is the first and only organisation whole-heartedly focused on this topic and works on behalf of its signatories (currently 75 scaling to 250 by 2030) which comprises of 63% brands and retailers, 32% researchers and 5% affiliated organisations. TMC’s signatory base represents the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, 13 European and 6 Asian countries, amongst others. Its global remit within 26 geographies ensures that the clothing industry delivering to a wide and diverse consumer base, can be consistent with its implementation of mitigation measures relating to unintentional fibre fragmentation and microfibre pollution (both synthetic and natural) through actions such as:

  • developing root cause understanding and solutions
  • driving an aligned commitment
  • delivering sustained action and measurable impact.

Its work is managed by a dedicated UK based team that is led by executive director Sophie Mather.

Visit website.


Lead Photo: TMC’s Sophie Mather reviews the potential microplastic issue at the coast (photo credit: Jonathan-Simpson)


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