Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the appliance industry on introducing microfibre catching filters in washing machines to help mitigate microfibre plastic pollution.
The Government currently has no plans to require manufacturers to install microfibre catching filters on new washing machines and is working with industry to encourage improved environmental outcomes and reduce water pollution on a voluntary basis.
In 2020 Defra published the outcome of research into the sources and pathways of synthetic fibres and vehicle tyre wear contamination into the marine environment. A key conclusion from this research was that there are a large number of textile fibres in the air close to roads, particularly those with pedestrians, which could settle into waterways. This amount is much greater than the number of textile fibres entering the water environment from waste-water treatment plants, suggesting that washing machine filters would have a minimal effect on the number of microplastic fibres that enter the water environment.
Defra will continue to assess new and emerging evidence in this area to inform policy options for tackling microplastic pollution.