During a wash, polyester and acrylic garments can easily shed half a million microfibers, which end up in the world’s waters where they cause poisoning and genetic disruption. As a response, PlanetCare is tackling microfiber pollution at the source: our washing machines. The Slovenian company has just launched its online shop, offering a monthly subscription for those who want to reduce their microplastics impact.
PlanetCare’s microfiber filter works based on the electric charge of the fibers, and collects them through a self-cleaning nano membrane. The filter can be easily installed in just ten minutes, and is compatible with every washing machine.
Customers can order their filter through PlanetCare’s webshop and install them on their washing machine. After about twenty washes, the filter’s cartridge is full, after which a new one is placed. Used cartridges are returned to PlanetCare in a supplied box, and a new one is delivered each month.
The company removes and recycles the filtering media of the used filters, while the rest of the device, accounting for 95% of the product, is reused. A monthly subscription costs €9.95, but customers can also opt for a one-time order of multiple cartridges.
“I’m so proud we’re offering an effective and affordable solution for microfiber pollution that goes way beyond conscience clearing. But most of all, I’ve just been so excited to see how many people care deeply about the issue, too,” says Mojca Zupan, the company’s founder and CEO. “My team and I envision a world in which every washing machine has a pollution-stopping filter: it’s been done in cars years and years ago, so this has been long overdue.”
In addition to domestic solutions, the company provides commercial filters for hotels, hospitals and launderettes, which are currently in the beta testing phase in California. Moreover, the technology can be applied effectively in large textile production facilities.
Mojca Zupan confirms that there is significant potential to increase the percentage of fibers that the filter captures. “Although we already capture around 90% of the fibers according to independent research and are by far the most efficient solution on the market, our goal is 100%.”
“We must find an optimum compromise between capture rate and durability,” says prof. dr. Andrej Kržan, Chief Research Officer at PlanetCare. “Generally, higher retention will shorten durability, but the design and choice of materials used define how far we can take the performance.”
Besides the target to increase the filter’s retention to as close to 100% as possible, PlanetCare aims to extend its durability to six months. “In a passive, retro-fit filter we cannot get to these values yet, but we believe that making the filter an integral part of the washing machine will lead to the desired result,” Kržan told Global Garland.
PlanetCare estimates that, within five years, its users will have prevented more than 500 tons of microfibers from entering the environment. That number may soon rise, as the company is working with a major washing machine producer to make the filter a built-in feature.