Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D – Inglewood) recently introduced Assembly Bill 1628, which will require a microfiber filter on all new washing machines sold in California by 2029.
When clothes containing synthetic fibers are washed they shed plastic microfibers that end up in freshwater systems and the ocean. They are eventually found in tap water, bottled water and in other things we consume, including fish, table salt and beer. If microfibers are captured by wastewater treatment plants, these fragments can be reintroduced to the natural environment through the spread of sewage sludge as fertilizer.
Through these pathways, microfibers end up in California’s agricultural fields, where they can persist for decades and compromise our food production; posing potential health risks to consumers and farming communities.
With the rise of fast fashion there has been an increase in clothes being made from synthetic material, which means more clothes eventually being washed and releasing microfibers into our oceans and freshwater.
“California has been a leader in reducing plastic pollution and must continue to lead on this issue,” said McKinnor. “AB 1628 is a solution that is cost and energy efficient and has the potential to dramatically reduce the volume of microfibers entering the environment.”
“Our research has demonstrated that microfiber pollution is a sizable threat to Californians. With at least 4.85 million lbs. of fibers entering our lands and waters each year, mandating use of filters can be an effective near-term solution to limit emissions,” said Jay Ziegler, external affairs director for The Nature Conservancy.
“We applaud Assemblymember McKinnor for taking action to scale already existing filtration solutions that will address this largely invisible aspect of the plastic pollution crisis.”
“Plastic pollution has become a crisis for our ocean and coastal communities. Microfibers are the most common form of microplastic pollution in the environment, and just a single load of synthetic laundry can release up to 18 million microfibers. Luckily, adding filters to washing machines can drastically cut that number down, which is why this legislation is so paramount,” said Dr. Anja Brandon, associate director, U.S. Plastics Policy, Ocean Conservancy.
“We thank Assemblymember McKinnor for helping California lead the way in protecting our communities and our ocean from a significant source of plastic pollution.”
“Microfibers are a widespread pollutant around the globe, making their way into the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even our bodies. A single load of laundry can release hundreds of thousands of microfibers, but solutions do exist. Filters in washing machines are effective at capturing up to 90% of microfibers, so it’s a logical next step to build these directly into machines,” said Dr. Lisa Erdle, director of Science & Innovation, 5 Gyres Institute.
“We applaud Assemblymember McKinnor for her leadership on this issue by introducing AB 1628.”