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Eliminating microplastics in household washing

Filter will help appliance manufacturers meet new regulations on the world’s number-one source of microplastic pollution.

22nd May 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Düren, Germany

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

GKD Group, the leading woven mesh filtration manufacturer headquartered in Düren, Germany, has teamed up with Cleveland, Ohio-based Cleanr, a developer of advanced microplastics filtering technologies, to help washing machine manufacturers meet new and emerging regulations aimed at eliminating plastic microfibre pollution in global waterways, ecosystems and food chains. 

The companies will collaborate in the development, engineering and manufacturing of Cleanr’s solutions which efficiently filter microplastics from residential, commercial and industrial washing machine wastewater.

Cleanr’s patent-pending technology can be applied as an external filter or be readily integrated into modern washing machine designs as a pre-installed solution. The technology has been shown to capture over 90% of microplastic fibres larger than 50 microns in size. Cleanr also offers a consumer-friendly dry disposal mechanism that prevents hands-on contact with the microfibre waste and prevents it from being washed down the drain.

“Washing-machine manufacturers around the world are facing growing demand for consumer-friendly, cost-efficient microplastic filtering solutions to address pending regulations in Europe, North America and beyond,” says Cleanr CEO Max Pennington.  “Our partnership with GKD ensures the highest quality and precision manufacturing capabilities for our clients, based on GKD’s 100-year track record of woven mesh innovation.”

Over a half-million tons of plastic microfibres spill into the oceans every year in the form of washing machine wastewater. This accounts for 35% of all microplastics in the environment, making clothing and textiles the world’s number-one source of microplastic pollution.

“Microplastic pollution is becoming an urgent environmental and public health concern, but the microplastic filtering of washing-machine wastewater is a game changer,” says GKD Group CSO Stephan Kufferath.  “We’re keen to help Cleanr achieve its market potential by leveraging our microplastic stainless-steel mesh and long-established network of global manufacturing and distribution centres. This is an opportunity to help deliver the first filtration solution that actually meets upcoming regulatory requirements for Europe and beyond.”

A number of governments are studying the problem and developing new rules to curb the flow of plastic microfibres from washing machines into waterways. Beginning in January 2025, France will require all new washing machines sold in the country to include a microplastic-filtration solution. Meanwhile, members of the UK parliament, California, Illinois, and Oregon state legislators in the USA, and provincial legislators in Ottawa, Canada, are working through similar proposals, with other governments around the world following suit.

“The growing focus on microplastic pollution by consumers, governments, healthcare organisations and manufacturers of textiles, apparel and appliances has created a dynamic market with potential to achieve rapid change,” says Terry Moore, chairman of Cleanr’s board of directors. “By closely collaborating with washing-machine manufacturers and global leaders like GKD, Cleanr will help overcome the world’s number one source of microplastic pollution, while driving growth for our clients and shareholders.”

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