As of January 2025, all new washing machines in France will have to include a filter to stop synthetic clothes from polluting our waterways. This makes France the first country in the world to take legislative steps in the fight against plastic microfiber pollution.
Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, is the first politician in the world to pass such a unique law. “We don’t have a choice”, said Poirson yesterday during a round-table discussion in Paris. It was a meeting of washing machine manufacturers, innovators working on washing machine filters, consumer associations, and NGOs, including the Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF).
Maria Westerbos, founder & director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, showed her optimism: “This is such a brave move. We are very enthusiastic about this decision and every country should follow suit.”
One of the innovators invited to the discussion was PlanetCare, a Slovenian start-up that has developed a washing machine filter that stops 90% of microfibers from entering the waterways and is compatible with every type of washing machine. “In 5 years, France will avoid 500 tons of microfibers,” says Mojca Zupan, managing director of PlanetCare.
Europe should follow and convince manufacturers
Washing machine manufacturers are still reluctant to implement this law and insist that the process “is complicated”. Nevertheless, PlanetCare has already shown that the implementation is possible.
All attendees at Monday’s discussion in Paris agreed that it should also be implemented on a European level. Other European countries should take steps to help solve this problem as well, taking France as an example.
Ocean Clean Wash
In 2019, PlanetCare received the Ocean Clean Wash Quality Label. This label assesses solutions to the massive problem of microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes and textiles. Their washing machine filter has been thoroughly tested by four renowned institutions.
As part of our Ocean Clean Wash campaign, PSF looks for and promotes solutions throughout every stage of the textile value chain, by pushing all parties, especially the fashion industry. Maria Westerbos: “The big brands must take responsibility for the clothes they manufacture and avoid microfiber loss into the environment.” She’s determined to stay fully involved in this issue and is enthusiastic to participate in discussions to assess solutions that tackle the leakage of fibers to the environment. She thinks it is important for all parties to also establish a harmonized methodology that measures microfiber release. In the next few decades, the number of washing machines in the world will increase from 2 billion to 5 billion. Westerbos: “Without a filter, that’s a nightmare for the environment.”