In the field of marine/ocean research, synthetic microfibres are being increasingly identified as one major source of ocean pollution. As well as being damaging to wildlife, they have further been proven to be entering the food chain through the ingestion by aquatic life, such as plankton, and as potential carriers for other harmful chemicals.
With its dependence on synthetic fabrics and its long-standing dedication and commitment to improving environmental standards in their operations, these findings have being taken seriously by the outdoor industry.
The EOG has since 2015 worked to bring together relevant knowledge, data and players around this topic. Collaboration links exist to sister organisations such as the Scandinavian Outdoor Group, Peak Innovation, and also the Boulder (CO, USA) based Outdoor Industry Association.
In a bid to continue this approach in addressing environmental concerns proactively, leading outdoor industry ambassadors have now formed a consortium, with the aim of developing a better understanding of the issue and to work towards concrete solutions.
The consortium is led by the membership association European Outdoor Group, which collaborates with the Scandinavian Outdoor Group and Peak Innovation, as well as Leeds University and sustainable innovation company Biov8tion as scientific partners.
The consortium is being led by brands Berghaus, Finisterre, Haglöfs, Helly Hansen, Mammut, Norrøna, Salewa, and The North Face, and is supported by outdoor brands such as Alpkit, and Jack Wolfskin, as well as fabric and yarn suppliers Shinkong Synthetic Fibres Corporation, and Little King.
In a first phase, the consortium is taking a two-pronged approach to investigate the shedding rates and mechanisms of fabrics frequently used in outdoor apparel. One research stream will thereby focusing at the polymer, fibre, and yarn level, while the second research stream will be looking at fabric construction and garments.
Initially the research will aim to answer and consolidate fundamental questions, such as:
- How much microfibre shedding are we producing?
- How are the fibres being shed?
- What fabric types could be the key offenders?
The desired outcome of this first phase is an open source database that details research findings about the effect polymer, yarn, and textile structure may play on microfibre shedding.
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