Plastic Innovations & Designs
Written By: Mikaela Montanari
I'd like to introduce you to the "Innovations" section in our newsletter that I will be contributing to. The Column will focus on innovative means to reduce our plastic footprint on our planet, but more specifically on our ocean. I was particularly inspired to write this column after the "Chemistry of Plastics" presentation at the 2018 Fall Camano VET training by Dr. Mahmoud Abdel-Monem. He informed our class about the harmful effects of human dependence on plastic materials for modern life which has led to an increase of plastic waste in our marine systems, along with the catastrophic ecosystem impacts plastic has on them (i.e. animal deaths, entanglements, etc.).
Dr. Mahmoud Abdel-Monem's presentation inspired many among our a veteran and new trainees ranks to remove plastic Tupperware from their homes and go back to glass containers. Seeing how empowering science-based knowledge can be on all of us, I felt inspired to continue addressing the plastic challenge with the creation of this column.
The initial column will focus on plastics because marine plastic is a huge threat to so many ecosystems and food chains, but it is not intended to shame or pressure anyone into buying any of these products or even endorsing them. Rather, I hope you will enjoy learning about some of the crazy interesting innovations that Homo sapiens continuously invent, discover, and re-discover.
Capturing Microfibers – Marketed Technologies Reduce Microfiber Emissions from Washing Machines
Microfibers are a common type of microplastic. One known source of microfibers to the environment is domestic laundering, which can release thousands of fibers into washing machine effluent with every wash. Here, we adapted existing methods to measure the length, count, and weight of microfibers in laundry effluent. We used this method to test the efficacy of two technologies marketed to reduce microfiber emissions: the Cora Ball and Lint LUV-R filter. Both technologies significantly reduced the numbers of microfibers from fleece blankets in washing effluent. The Lint LUV-R captured an average of 87% of microfibers in the wash by count, compared to the Cora Ball which captured 26% by count. The Lint LUV-R also significantly reduced the total weight and average length of fibers in the effluent. While further research is needed to understand other sources of microfiber emissions, these available technologies could be adopted to reduce emissions from laundering textiles.
Mcilwraith, H. K., Lin, J., Erdle, L. M., Mallos, N., Diamond, M. L., & Rochman, C. M. (2019). Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines. Marine Pollution Bulletin,139, 40-45. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.12.012