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Image by Rosie Fraser

Creating synthetic materials that don't shed microplastics:

Brooke Roberts-Islam in conversation with Polymateria

If you missed Brooke Roberts-Islam piece last week that saw Brooke talk with polymateria about the material science challenge in ‘redesigning’ synthetics to perform adequately as textiles, as well as, how landfills todays are unable to cope with biodegradable and bio-based synthetics and the realities of microfibres releasing back into nature.

Its a great piece that really highlights the challenges the industry face today, how and why we need to tackle them urgently and the great work being done by polymateria.



Last week, the RSA issued a report claiming that “half of ‘fast fashion’ is entirely made from new plastics”. The “Fast Fashion’s Plastic Problem” report from the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), analyses 10,000 recently-listed items from some of the biggest online brands in ‘fast’ fashion: Asos, Boohoo, MissGuided and PrettyLittleThing. The research shows that the vast majority of items, which were balanced across multiple product categories, contain new plastics, with half being entirely made from petrochemical-derived polymers including polyester, acrylic, elastane and nylon.

Whilst this is an issue in terms of finite petrochemical resource use, it is also an environmental issue due to microplastic waste generated during production, washing and wearing of the clothing. Microplastic shedding from plastics, including textiles and clothing, has resulted in the omnipresence of plastic in our food, water and soil. Due to our ‘throwaway culture, the RSA warns in the report that the bulk of garments, such as those analysed, are ending up in landfill, contributing to the rapidly escalating microplastic problem.

The consumer element of purchasing plastic clothing requires education and transparency, however, the redesign of materials is key to ensuring an absence of toxic additives and compatibility with returning to nature - as all materials inevitably do. To explore this concept further, and examine the landscape of synthetic polymer innovation that seeks to tackle microplastic pollution, I spoke to Niall Dunne, CEO, Polymateria and Sustainability Advisor Board Member, UK Research and Innovation.

Read the full article below:


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