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International Microfiber Shedding Standard Advances

The Cross Industry Agreement (CIA), an apparel and textile industry alliance formed to tackle issues relating to microplastics, has completed the next phase of its project to develop a harmonized industry standard for the supply chain.

CIA has revealed the results of a fiber fragmentation trial carried out in advance of establishing a CEN Standard from the European Committee for Standardization. Once confirmed, the standard will also become an ISO standard under the Vienna Agreement, providing apparel manufacturers and policy makers with a vital tool as part of wider work to reduce microfiber shedding into the environment.

The microfiber shedding test method was developed thanks to the joint efforts and cooperation of experts from 28 European, American and Asian organizations, which delivered their findings to CEN last year. Since then, representatives from the CIA have been working with CEN to fine tune details to meet the requirements for a CEN Standard.

A round robin trial (RRT) was conducted to determine if the method could be replicated in different laboratories and produce similar results. Ten organizations participated in the RRT that was coordinated by the CIA, sending fabric samples to all of the laboratories involved and then collecting and analyzing the data.

The results from the RRT show statistically significant consistency, both within and between participating laboratories, which demonstrates that the method is repeatable in the same setting and reproducible in other laboratories.

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The CIA has submitted the results of the RRT to CEN, with the intention that the CEN Standard is confirmed in the near future. Once that has happened, it will be promoted throughout the apparel industry and will become a key tool for researchers, businesses and governments as they accelerate efforts to reduce microfiber shedding associated with garment production.

“The standardized test method will be a major step forward,” Frédéric Van Houte, director general of CIRFS, the European Man-Made Fibers Association, said. “Not only will it help to correctly assess microplastics shedding from textiles, but it will also allow the industry to explore measures to reduce it.”

Mauro Scalia, director sustainable businesses at EURATEX, said with the CIA, industry and researchers have now accomplished a lot to shed light on the problem of microplastics sloughing from textiles.

“EURATEX looks forward for the next phase–we need to find feasible and enforceable solutions to tackle such a global issue and use sustainable textiles in the EU,” Scalia said.

Jérome Pero, secretary general of Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), said its members have been “impatiently waiting for a standardized test method for microplastics shedding from textiles which will shed light on microplastics emissions.”

“Thanks to the efficient and collaborative efforts of the Cross Industry Agreement and the research community, this will soon become a reality, allowing companies and policy makers to make relevant choices to ultimately tackle microplastics emissions,” Pero added.