RadiciGroup and CNR-ISMAC Biella take up the MERMAIDS challenge: Commitment to environmental sustainability.

For RadiciGroup, one more concrete step forward on sustainability: the Group, whose businesses encompass the manufacture of polyamide and polyester yarns, has started a collaboration with CNR-ISMAC Institute in Biella, which is participating in the MERMAIDS project. The demonstration project is among those approved within the framework of the LIFE+ (LIFE+13) programme, the European financial Instrument for the environment.

The environmental impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems is a complex issue, which has been a topic of debate for quite some time. The problem has many causes, one of which involves the release of micro- and nanoplastic particles from synthetic fibres into wastewater during the laundry of synthetic or mixed fabrics. This particular aspect (which accounts for an estimated 10% of microplastic pollution as a whole) is the subject of a collaborative project that RadiciGroup is working on with CNR-ISMAC in Biella (the Institute for Macromolecular Studies [ISMAC], part of the Italian National Research Council [CNR]), one of the partners in the LIFE+ MERMAIDS project.
MERMAIDS is a demonstration project – approved within the framework of the LIFE+ (LIFE+13) programme, the European financial Instrument for the environment – whose main objective is to contribute to the mitigation of the impact caused by micro- and nanoplastic particles resulting from laundry wastewater on European sea ecosystems by demonstrating and implementing innovative technologies and additives for laundry processes and textile finishing treatments. Every wash of synthetic or mixed fabrics releases fibre fragments, from less than 5 millimetres to only a few microns in length, which wastewater treatment plants are not able to capture.
“We decided to offer to collaborate with the Biella CNR-ISMAC Institute, a partner and active participant in the MERMAIDS project,” said Filippo Servalli, marketing manager of RadiciGroup, “because we think that a scientific approach to the problem and the proactive engagement of the entire textile value chain – from the manufacturer to the final consumer – are the essential components of a plan having the objective to shed light on the important issue of the environmental impact of microplastics coming from the laundry of  textile garments.”
The studies already conducted by CNR-ISMAC, including tests on knitwear samples made of RadiciGroup polyamide and polyester continuous yarn, have contributed to identifying a series of factors responsible for the release of microplastic fibre fragments from textiles containing synthetic fibres, during both domestic and industrial washes. As recently documented by the ISMAC team working on the project, AMONG THE MOST CRITICAL FACTORS IDENTIFIED AS HAVING A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON THE RELEASE OF MICROPLASTIC FIBRES are the intensity of the treatment and the type of detergent used. Other secondary factors were also evaluated, such as, the characteristics of the textile substrate (compactness, pilling propensity, seams and fibre characteristics) and, together with RadiciGroup, continuous filament treatments (bulking and dyeing). 
The results obtained from the study conducted on its PA and PET yarns have allowed RadiciGroup to identify some factors, tied to the yarn’s characteristics, that can be taken into consideration, starting at the fabric design phase, in order to reduce the release of microplastics.
“The experimental data have shown, for example, that for both PA and PET solution-dyed yarns the values of the parameters affecting microplastic fibre discharge are lower than for other types of yarn,” said Daniele Dossi, quality manager of Noyfil SA. “These results, together with other findings arising from the collaboration with CNR, will enable us to assist our customers in choosing the best products for their final use in terms of performance, on the one hand, and reduce the impact of released microplastic fibres, on the other.”