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ZDHC, Microfibre Consortium Align Against Microfiber Pollution

The ZDHC Foundation and The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) have unveiled details of the next stage of a major initiative to address the issue of microfibers in textile manufacturing wastewater.

Following the release of “Control of Microfibers in Wastewater” manufacturing guidelines by TMC, the two organizations will now collaborate closely during a new phase of the project, combining the expertise of ZDHC in sustainable chemical management and the science-led fiber fragmentation knowledge of TMC.

“The collaboration between TMC and ZDHC is a great example that two organizations can come together by building a competence center around fiber shedding,” said Frank Michel, ZDHC Foundation executive director. “This will leverage each other’s expertise and infrastructure.”

Designed to help companies and supply chains better control microfibers in wastewater during textile manufacturing, including apparel and footwear products, the preliminary guidelines in the document identify an approach that can be taken throughout the industry to best support change within manufacturing.

Building on the first phase of this work that looked to identify and landscape utilization of existing technologies across the industry, the upcoming phase will focus on the measurement and baselining, so that progress can be managed effectively and transparently. To support this, a dedicated task team from ZDHC and TMC will focus on three key areas.

They are the identification and alignment of a globally available test method to measure fiber loss within wastewater at a manufacturing level, ‍determining a baseline for microfiber loss from manufacturing facilities and aligning to a harmonized data infrastructure that captures the measurement and control of microfibers from manufacturing facilities.

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The work will be managed as three key interconnected workstreams that draw from the strengths of the two organizations and leverage the knowledge building that is achievable as a result. ZDHC and TMC are also encouraging businesses and other stakeholders from the textile industry to adopt the manufacturing guidelines captured in “Control of Microfibers in Wastewater” and contribute to the next phase of the project, adding to the collective knowledge base tackling the issue.

“We are looking here to maximize change, without the need for huge investment or complicated modifications within textile production,” Sophie Mather, executive director of TMC, said. “This new collaborative phase with ZDHC and our combined networks offers up unique value in the strength between the two organizations, whilst leveraging from existing approaches to work at the manufacturing level.

“There is an urgency for us to be able to measure consistently from facility to facility, so that we can manage loss and ultimately impact,” Mather continued. “I offer up a call to action for industry at all levels, synthetic and natural fibers, high fashion to outdoor, to align and encourage manufacturing facilities to support this work.”

TMC confirmed that the ‘Control of Microfibres in Wastewater” preliminary guidelines are now public after signatories of the Microfiber 2030 Commitment had early access to it. TMC is a research-led sustainable textiles NGO, working to convene the global textiles sector through The Microfiber 2030 Commitment and Roadmap. It includes brands and retailers, researchers and affiliated organizations in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and 13 European and six Asian countries.