QUEEN'S PARK — Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) will re-introduce her bill to ensure all washing machines sold in Ontario are equipped with a filter that reduces the shed of microfibres into water and soil systems.
"The most common type of microplastic, microfibres shed from our clothes into washing machines, which release thousands of thousands of microfibres into our waterways and Great Lakes with every load of laundry we do," said Bell. "This plastic pollution degrades our drinking water and harms wildlife. It’s hurting the environment."
The bill is informed by research conducted by the University of Toronto Rochman Lab that studies the effects of microfibres on the environment and is supported by Georgian Bay Forever, a charity working to protect the aquatic ecosystem.
"Ontario families want to protect our beautiful lakes and rivers from harmful textile pollution," said Bell. “This bill would update standards so that families can be confident they aren’t unintentionally hurting Ontario water with each load of laundry.”
Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and co-founder of the U of T Trash Team. The Rochman Lab studies the sources, fate, and environmental impacts of microplastics and microfibres
"Washing machine filters work, but they need to be scaled. Filters were shown to capture an average of 87% of microfibres in a laboratory setting, and our recent research with Georgian Bay Forever further showed they work in a real-life community setting by ultimately reducing emissions from a wastewater treatment plant. Filters installed in about 10% of households, can reduce emissions by at least 10%, or potentially more when combined with education to the greater community. While washing machines aren’t the ONLY source of microfibres to the environment, they are a major source, and washing machine filters would go a long way to keep microfibres from going down the drain."
David Sweetnam, Executive Director of Georgian Bay Forever
"We know that microfibres are an issue for Georgian Bay, as they are for other parts of the Great Lakes and other water bodies beyond. Laboratory studies show that when microfibres are ingested by wildlife, their physical shape and the chemical cocktail they can carry from manufacturing or from contaminants in the surrounding environment can cause harm when ingested. Our study with the University of Toronto estimated that if the approximately 1.2 million households in Toronto all had washing machine filters, then the annual microfibre capture could be in the range of 12 to 166 trillion microfibres diverted from going down the drain. The technology is possible - washing machine filters used to be common in North America, and are common in other countries, like Japan."