Synthetic fibres contribute to plastic pollution

  1. According to a recent study, synthetic fibres like nylon and polyesters are major contributors of micro plastic pollution in the environment. Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products. They are not recyclable and biodegradable like natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk
  2. Microplastics are plastics which are less than five mm in diameter in size. Sources of micro plastic include clothing, cosmetics, industrial processes etc.
  3. Microplastic pollution has become a major environmental concern. According to a 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report, microplastics are estimated to constitute up to 30% of marine litter polluting the oceans
  4. In the oceans, pieces of microscopic plastic are consumed by plants and animals and enter the human food chain through harvested fish. The ingestion of microplastics is very dangerous as these substances contain high concentrations of toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls.
  5. The recent study has suggested measures to prevent microplastic pollution; such as a) minimise the use of synthetic fibres, b) substitution of synthetic fibres with biosynthetic fibres and natural fibres, c) large scale use of bacteria that could aid in biodegradation of the fibres for reuse and d) blending synthetic fibres with natural fibres to increase durability and make them recyclable.