Synthetic fibers an overlooked source of microplastic pollution

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In New Zealand, a merino wool company is looking to mitigate one of the overlooked sources of microplastics in the world’s oceans: synthetic textiles.

As much as 35% of microplastic pollution comes from synthetic fabrics, and New Zealand Merino Company says it is investing in research and development to determine how using biodegradable, natural fibers such as merino wool can help.

Linn Hoffmann a professor in the Botany department at Otago University tells TVNZ that tiny microplastic fibers break off of synthetic clothing during washing and end up in rivers in oceans. “How much synthetics people wear, how often they wash their clothing, what kind of washing machines they have,” influences how much microplastics ends up in the environment, he added.