France First to Introduce Microfibre Filters on Washing Machines

AFP reports on the last announcement made by French environmnent minister Brune Poirson before her diagnosis with COVID-19: the planned introduction of plastic microfibre filters in washing machines, making France the first country to introduce this regulation.

Article source: "Filtres anti-plastiques dans les lave-linge: Brune Poirson réunit les fabricants", AFP, 17/02/2020

Today, the French environment minister, Brune Poirson, organised a meeting of washing machine manufacturers to discuss the inclusion of plastic microfibre filters in all new washing machines. This measure will be part of the new law on the circular economy.

From 1 January 2025, all new washing machines sold in France will have to be fitted with these filters, which are meant to prevent tiny plastic fibres in clothing from entering the sewage system during the washing cycle, explained the environment ministry.

“Washing machine manufacturers will have to innovate to comply with this new standard," stated Brune Poirson.

The plastics used in clothing manufacture (polyester, acrylic, elastane) release particles when they are washed which are too small to be filtered by sewage treatment plants and end up in the environment, specifically the oceans.

According to figures published by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), microplastics represent between 15% and 31% of the 9.5 million tons of plastic released into the sea every year.

France is the first country in the world to propose legislation on this source of plastic pollution, requiring all washing machines to be equipped with microplastic filters by 2025.

Brune Poirson’s intention, in bringing together manufacturers, technological developers and NGOs, is to draw up a road map for implementation, to show how the objective could be met.

She wants to encourage manufacturers to put filters in their appliances as soon as possible, which would enable them to receive an environmental tax credit if they did so before 2025.

This measure "puts France at the forefront of the fight against microplastic pollution and at the vanguard of innovation for ecological transition", claimed Brune Poirson, who wants inventors and researchers to see France "as a large scale laboratory for comprehensive solutions".

In France, about 2.7 million washing machines are sold every year, which equates to more than 7000 per day, according to figures provided by Gifam, the trade association of household appliance manufacturers in France. More than 97% of French households have a washing machine, and over 5900 French businesses, such as launderettes, use washing machines in their principal activity.


Translation by Cyriel Méniel and Claire Brunin

Editing by Sam Trainor

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