Advanced materialsCircular EconomyLIFE+

MERMAIDS in the news! Challenging the economy to reduce microfiber pollution

Last week, an article about the Mermaids project was published in The Guardian. Mermaids deals with the mitigation of microplastics impact caused by textile washing processes. This shows the growing concern around this environmental issue. Here is an extract of the article. Click here to read the full article. Many thanks to May Catherine O’Connor for this good piece of news! Enjoy the reading!


“Researchers launched Mermaids in 2015 and set an ambitious goal to cut the amount of microfiber shedding during washing by 70%. The Italian National Research Council led the research, with help from Polysistec, a maker of textile coatings, and Leitat, a Spanish research council.


The Mermaids researchers pinpointed factors in the manufacturing of polyester and acrylic textiles that influences the amount of fibers that could be shed from a finished product while it is being laundered, or even during normal wear. They then recommended changes, such as lowering the melting temperature during yarn production to improve it tensile strength and reduce the likelihood of breakage. There are tradeoffs to changing manufacturing processes, however, and some could lead to slower production rates.


The researchers also evaluated a range of coatings, or chemical treatments, for their ability to inhibit fiber loss. The coatings that are already used by textile makers, such as silicone and acrylic finishes, produced mixed results, ranging from zero reduction to cutting fiber loss by as much as 40%. One of two bio-based finishes, chitosan, which is derived from crustacean shells, reduced fiber loss by up to 50% compared to no coating.


While the Mermaids report offers recommendations, it doesn’t spell out the financial and technical difficulties of implementing manufacturing changes. Textile and apparel makers so far seem unconvinced that they should invest in those changes.”

This project has received the contribution of the LIFE financial instruments of the European Union.