Washing machine filter prevents microfibers from going down the drain

Protecting Georgian Bay’s Water

In Georgian Bay Forever's Divert and Capture project, we are installing 100 washing machine filters (Model: 160 Filtrol from Wexco) in Parry Sound households. We are partnering with Lisa Erdle, a student from the Rochman Laboratory at the University of Toronto. She will be sampling water from the effluent of the Parry Sound wastewater treatment plant, and measuring the impact these filters are having on the reduction of microfibers that flow into Georgian Bay.
A little background...

According to Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines 1 ( McIlwraith at. al), the Lint LUV-R (a filter similar to the FIltrol 160) captured 87% of micofibers in the wash by count.

Microfibers come off your clothes during laundering, and since most of your clothes are likely made from synthetic materials many of them are plastic. These tiny strands of plastic (less than 5 mm) can be as high as 700,000 per wash load depending on the amount and the synthetic materials in the wash (Napper and Thompson) 2.

In the Capturing microfibers 1(McIIwraith et.al) published research paper, 90,700 to 138,000 fibers are estimates based on washing one synthetic blanket. Some further 'downstream estimates' show some potentially very alarming consequences.

    "Most of these fibers will travel with wastewater to a WWTP to be treated. Studies suggest that 83–99.9% of microplastics are captured in the sludge of a WWTP (Carr et al., 2016; Dris et al., 2015; Talvitie et al., 2017), with the remaining emitted to the aquatic environment via final effluent. If 99% of the 23 to 36 trillion microfibers are captured in the sludge, then up to 234 to 356 billion could be released directly into lakes and rivers annually based on our data and calculations. If the sludge is land applied, some of the remaining ~23–35.5 trillion could also be released into the environment."3

We all need to do things differently to protect our freshwater - from changing our fashion choices away from synthetic materials and clothes that have a short-life span, to decreasing our frequency of clothing purchase, to reducing the number of washing loads we do, to installing filters on our washing machines.

Microplastics from a blanket

Georgian Bay Forever (GBF), thanks to our funders and partners, aims to build on the microfibers research and test a filter solution in the field - with real households - in a Parry Sound Field Study we are calling Divert and Capture. When complete, in about 2.5 years, these results will be shared with stakeholders, manufacturers , and the public to influence change in our habits that are currently leading to the build-up of plastic in our freshwater.

  • Enjoy this 3 minute video of GBF's Amber Gordon-Bunn removing a month's worth of microfibers from her family's washing.
  • Read more about microplastics and this project at this link, "Microplastics Impacts" .
  • What can you do:

    1. Buy a filter for your washing machine. For the Divert and Capture project, GBF is installing the Filtrol 160 from Wexco into Parry Sound residences. There are other filters on the market.
    2. Until better solutions and more research is completed on microfibre and microplastics impacts - general tips include avoiding over consumption of clothing and particularly synthetic clothing, decrease your laundering, and minimize one-use plastic like bags and coffee cups and lids.
    3. Undertake clean-ups of your favourite shorelines in Georgian Bay and dispose of the litter in the appropriate manner. You're helping water quality for the plants and animals in the Bay and restoring shoreline beauty.
    4. Support research. If you are in Parry Sound, volunteer for this project. Contact us at email , info@gbf.org

    GBF wishes to acknowledge the support of these partners:

    Divert and Capture:

    The fight to keep microplastics out of our water

    The Rochman Lab at the University of Toronto
    The Town of Parry Sound
    The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve
    The Ontario Ministry of the Environment , Conservation and Parks

    and our many community volunteers!

    With great thanks to these funders...

    Divert and Capture:

    The fight to keep microplastics out of our water

    Environment and climate change Canada
    RBC Foundation


    Patagonia

    The Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation

    And our many dedicated and passionate friends and donors.

    GBF continues to fundraise for $50,000 a year to expand this program.

    Further funds would allow us to:

    a) expand the project with more households b) expand the areas identified for clean ups c) educate more people on what microplastics are and what everyone can do to help stop the contamination.
    Please donate today!
    References:
    1McIlwraith, Hayley K.; Lin, Jack; Erdle, Lisa M.; Mallos, Nicholas; Diamond, Miriam L.; Rochman, C.M " Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines" , Marine Pollution Bulletin Volume 139, February 2019, Pages 40-45, retrieved from ScienceDirect at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X18308634?dgcid=author
    2Napper, Imogen E. and Thompson, Richard C. ""Release of synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric type and washing conditions" , Marine Pollution Bulletin ,Volume 112, Issues 1–2, 15 November 2016, Pages 39-45 retrieved from ScienceDirect at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16307639
    3McIlwraith, Hayley K.; Lin, Jack; Erdle, Lisa M.; Mallos, Nicholas; Diamond, Miriam L.; Rochman, C.M" Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines" , Marine Pollution Bulletin Volume 139, February 2019, Page 44, retrieved from ScienceDirect at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X18308634?dgcid=author