Inside the outdoor industry

Microfibre Consortium step closer to fragmentation database

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The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) has provided an update on its test programme which will help create a new fibre fragmentation database.

Working in collaboration across its membership, including brands, retailers, suppliers and research organisations, TMC said it has now tested in excess of 200 materials and yarns, all underpinned by detailed fabric specifications.

The information will form part of a new fibre fragmentation database and a pilot of that will be rolled out to consortium members this year. The update has been released alongside news that Trudy Watson will join the consortium as a technical specialist. She has been supporting TMC as a consultant during 2020 and will now join the team on a permanent basis.

Founded in November 2018, The Microfibre Consortium now has 42 members from across the outdoor sector, sports, high street, luxury fashion and home textiles, with a combined turnover of over €250 billion. TMC also has research and affiliate members from around the world, boosting the consortium’s growing international scope to support greater global topic alignment and collaboration and research understanding.

In November 2019, TMC and University of Leeds (UoL) unveiled the world’s first thoroughly tested, validated and internationally aligned method for measuring microfibre material loss from textiles, and outlined plans for developing a comprehensive fibre fragmentation database. Work on a pilot has been underway throughout 2020 and among the 200+ materials and yarns tested are ~70 knit fabrics, ~50 woven fabrics and ~15 laminated fabrics, ranging in fabric weight from 18g/m2 to 455g/m2.

Progress has been possible thanks to material and yarn samples that have been provided by TMC brand, retail and supplier members, including 33 global vendors. Test results that are informing the pilot database are derived from strategic internal testing with TMC research member UoL, members’ own in house testing, supplier testing, and, more recently, data on TMC member fabrics that has been provided by invited third party laboratories.

The project is being led by Trudy Watson, who will join The Microfibre Consortium as technical specialist in December. Trudy will be based in the UK and will continue to build the fibre fragmentation database with support from across the TMC network, including the TMC Board, and the consortium’s growing number of members and partner organisations.

Phil Patterson (left), managing director of textile consultancy Colour Connections and chair of the TMC Board, comments: “The Microfibre Consortium is committed to helping the textile industry reduce fibre fragmentation and discharge into the environment. This recent scaling of testing across over 200 strategic fabrics and yarn samples, underpinned by detailed technical specifications, is a pioneering step forwards in the final development stages of an industry-first fibre fragmentation database which will be beta tested with key TMC members before the end of 2020.

“Pragmatic recommendations for the industry must be based on credible scientific evidence and the launch of the fibre fragmentation database will enable TMC members at the brand, retail, supplier and research level to work from one centralised platform. This is a key landmark in the understanding of the relative significance of different fibres, yarns and fabric constructions on the generation of fibre fragments. The painstaking development of standardised assessment methodologies, together with the scaling of testing by TMC research, brand and supplier members, is another step closer to supporting the construction of inherently lower impact fabrics.”

Trudy Watson (right) added: “Driven by a curiosity to learn, understand, find solutions and implement change, I am thrilled to join The Microfibre Consortium and contribute to reducing fibre fragmentation and its environmental impact.”

TMC plans to share more information about the fibre fragmentation project and database in the lead up to and during the online Fibre Fragmentation Summit that it is hosting in partnership with Planet Textiles, from 23-26 March 2021. For more details about the event and to book a place, visit www.microfibreconsortium.com/summit.

Organisations that would like to discuss joining The Microfibre Consortium should contact findoutmore@microfibreconsortium.com. To find out more about the consortium, visit www.microfibreconsortium.com.

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