Green MSP to reveal extent of microfibres pollution problem

Scotland has a pollution problem with microfibres and the Scottish Government must act now to fix it, a Green MSP will say in the Scottish Parliament today.

Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson, will use this afternoon’s “Stemming the Plastic Tide” debate at Holyrood to urge ministers to take action to address the problem of plastics, and other materials, from synthetic clothing entering the water cycle from washing machines.

Ruskell, a Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, will also give a stark warning by highlighting how microfibres have even been found in “honey, beer and most of the world’s tap water supplies”.

Mark Ruskell MSP will say:

“We need to reframe the plastic problem as ‘plastic pollution’ rather than just litter. The plastic problem is not simply a matter of picking up waste and keeping things tidy. Viewing plastic debris simply as litter is even supported by the plastics industry itself- they have their own NGO Marine Litter Solutions.

“Microfibres come mostly from our synthetic clothing, they enter the water cycle from our washing machines and pass into our rivers and seas un-noticed and un-monitored. They have an irregular shape that poses a threat to smaller organisms—and may enter the food chain being initially eaten by plankton, shellfish and small fish working their way up the chain to humans. Microfibres have even been found in honey, beer, and most of the world’s tap water supplies.

“Microfibres effectively multiply the effect from toxic chemicals that are already a growing problem in our environment, but we have a pollution problem with microfibres which can largely be solved by mechanical means.

“There are filtration devices that can be applied to washing machine outflows and laundry balls that can attract microfiber loadings. Just as we saw the introduction of catalytic converters on cars, so we can screen out microfibres from the water cycle with the correct technology and product standards alongside the development of fabrics that shed less fibre in the first place.”