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BRUSSELS – The European Commission has given its support to a new cross-sector agreement aimed at finding ways to reduce and prevent microplastic release from synthetic textiles. The European Textile and Apparel Confederation (EURATEX), the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.), the European Outdoor Group (EOG), the European Man Made Fibres Association (CIRFS) and the Federation of European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) will work together to address the release of microplastic in the aquatic environment.

Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment generally smaller than 5 mm in size and possibly microscopic. They are of particular concern due to their potential toxicity to the animals that ingest them and their potential to enter the human food chain. Recently, the release of microplastic-sized fibres – microfibres – as a result of the domestic laundering of synthetic apparel has been widely reported as a significant potential source of microplastics.

The group of European industry associations, representing the global value chain of garments and their associated maintenance, agreed that “viable solutions” need to be found to the release of microplastic into global marine and freshwater during the entire lifecycle of textiles.

The associations have committed to a cross-industry coordination and stakeholder support through a set of “economically feasible measures,” including defining common measurement methods, sharing knowledge and industrial research.

The first half of 2018 will see the mapping of actions on test methods and on-going research, discussions on potential harmonisation methodologies and conceivable cross-industry collaborations. The goal for the end of 2018 will be to draft a proposal for the European Commission which will aim to fill knowledge gaps to identify and quantify sources of microplastic pollution in order to work on possible solutions.

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