The Woolmark Company, the global authority on wool, has conducted ground-breaking research to conclude that Merino wool does not contribute to increasing microplastics in the oceans.
The scientific study, titled ‘Microfibre Pollution and the Marine Biodegradation of Wool’, has found machine washable wool to biodegrade at a rate faster than untreated wool fabrics.
It also suggests that there is no evidence of treated wool’s polyamide resin coating contributing to microplastic pollution during its wash cycles.
For the purpose of the study, the biodegradability of two types of Merino wool against fabrics like rayon, polyester, nylon and polypropylene was tested in sea water.
All fabrics were washed repeatedly to emulate the lifecycle of a garment and the residues of each were then examined under microscopes. Thereafter, the results were compared to the biodegradability of kraft paper pulp, a substance that is known to easily biodegrade.
The final result was a staggering one, with machine washable wool biodegrading three times faster than untreated wool at 67.3 per cent the rate of pulp as opposed to 20.3 per cent for the latter.
This rate was found to be the fastest of all fabrics.
The study also quashed the claims of a previous study that a single polyester fleece garment can produce more than 1,900 microfibres per wash.
“Our research into wool and microplastics began back in 2016 when we investigated the current state of knowledge concerning microplastic pollution, focussing on microfibres from textiles,” averred Stuart McCullough, Managing Director of The Woolmark Company.
He added “This latest scientific study is a significant addition to the body of research investigating the damage certain textiles cause to our environment. Wool has long been heralded the original eco fibre, but concerns had been raised about the machine-washable finish applied to wool and whether it added to the microplastic problem, so we wanted to clarify that issue. During these ever-changing troubled times it’s important to consider how well-intentioned consumers can make purchasing decisions that help look after the health of the environment. Choosing natural fibres, such as Merino wool is an important place to start.”