Ocean Plastics

MCS calls for legislation in UK to stem flow of microfibres into oceans

written by Oceanographic Staff

Leading UK marine charity, Marine Conservation Society (MCS), is calling on the Government to help stem the flow of plastic microfibres entering the ocean from our laundry with a new campaign and petition called Stop Ocean Threads. The goal is to secure legislation requiring all washing machines to have microfibre filters.

Across the UK, at least 9.4 trillion microfibres could be released into the environment in just one week, with many of them ending up in the ocean and on beaches. For every load of laundry washed, as many as 700,000 microfibres can flow into the UK’s water systems.

microfibres microplastics ocean

“Despite just 40% of the UK public having heard of ‘microfibre pollution’ before taking a recent survey from YouGov, once made aware of how prolific the pollution is, most (81%) supported legislation to get microfibre filters fitted into all new domestic washing machines,” said Dr Laura Foster, MCS’s Head of Clean Seas. “We believe that these filters will make a real difference to the microfibre pollution in our seas.”

Polyester, nylon and acrylic fabrics are all made using plastic microfibres. Every time these materials are washed, worn and used, fibres shed into the environment and often the water system.

Microfibres that end up in the ocean can be consumed by marine animals that mistake the tiny fibres for food, becoming part of the food web and inevitably ending up on our plates. This has been highlighted in a study that found that 63% of shrimp in the North Sea have been found to contain synthetic fibres.

“We want to see all manufacturers committing, over the next 12 months, to having the filters within all their designs,” added Forster. “Government legislation will provide the push which is needed to see microfibre filters in all washing machines in the future.”

 To sign the petition and learn more about this issue and the Stop Ocean Threads campaign, click here.

Photograph by Tim Marshall.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

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