Measuring Microfibre Shedding

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Measuring Microfibre Shedding

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) has announced the public release of a globally aligned, standard test method to determine the level of microfibres shed from fabric during domestic laundering. The test method has been developed through collaboration between the University of Leeds (UoL), European Outdoor Group (EOG) and TMC, along with the larger stakeholder network. It has been released publicly now to assist and encourage adoption by the international textile industry and beyond.

In November 2019, TMC and UoL unveiled the world’s first thoroughly tested, validated and internationally aligned method for measuring microfibre material loss from textiles, outlining plans for developing a comprehensive fibre fragmentation database. Work on a pilot continued throughout 2020 and the data portal now contains detailed fabric specification information.

Over 250 materials and yarns were provided for testing, including 170 knit fabrics and 80 woven fabrics, ranging in fabric weight from 6g/m2 to 500g/m2. Fabrics from over 70 global vendors were submitted. This was possible thanks to samples that were sent by TMC brand, retail and supplier members. Data is all now hosted on the TMC Fibre Fragmentation Data Portal to support the collective scaling of understanding.

Using ISO 105-C06* at its core, the TMC Test Method has been developed to use standard laboratory equipment and provide accurate comparable data in a manner that can be scaled commercially across a range of lab facilities. Those wishing to utilise this test method can do so using TMC third party laboratory members, which currently include SGS and Eurofins.

Sophie Mather

Sophie Mather, executive director of The Microfibre Consortium, said, “It has always been our intention to publicly release this method for broader use across the textile industry and we are very excited to now do this. We are able to do so following a year of robust testing and use by our members, and with additional accreditation steps in place with the third party labs. All of this has been possible thanks to the collaborative nature of how the test method has been developed.

“We openly invite any organisations that are looking to utilise this method to submit results to the TMC Fibre Fragmentation Data Portal. This is a really important resource that is already being using by TMC members. Opening it up will increase the scale of understanding at a global level, which is an essential step as the textile industry seeks to reduce the level of microfibre shedding. Submitting data to the portal will help everyone to strengthen and expedite the actions that are needed to bring about necessary change around the world.”

*ISO 105-C06:2010 specifies methods intended for determining the resistance of the colour of textiles of all kinds and in all forms to domestic or commercial laundering procedures used for normal household articles using a reference detergent. Industrial and hospital articles may be subjected to special laundering procedures which may be more severe in some aspects.

The colour loss and staining resulting from desorption and/or abrasive action in one single (S) test closely approximates to one commercial or domestic laundering. The results of one multiple (M) test may in some cases be approximated by the results of up to five domestic or commercial launderings at temperatures not exceeding 70 °C. The M tests are more severe than the S tests because of an increase in mechanical action.

These methods do not reflect the effect of optical brighteners present in commercial washing products. These methods are designed for the detergents and bleach systems given. Other detergents and bleach systems may require different conditions and levels of ingredients.

BACKGROUND: Following the formation and management of The Outdoor Microfibre Consortium by the European Outdoor Group in 2017, The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) was founded as a stand-alone organisation in November 2018, reflecting the increasing importance of the topic and broadening membership of the consortium. TMC facilitates the collaborative development of practical solutions for the textile industry to minimise microfibre release to the environment from textile manufacturing and product life cycle. The consortium now has a membership that includes a diverse range of outdoor, fashion, sport and home textiles, brands, retailers and suppliers, and its work is managed by a UK-based team of seven led by executive director Sophie Mather.

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