What are Microplastics? They are “pieces” of plastics with the same chemical structure. The difference between macroplastics and microplastics is their size: the former can be seen with the naked eye, and the latter needs an optical microscope. Both are present in air, water and oceans (sizes: Macro - 2.5 cm to 100 cm and Micro - 0.0001 cm to 0.1 cm).
Do all types of fabric generate microplastics or other environmental impacts? Which ones generate more or less?Materials such as cotton cannot generate microplastics, as they are not plastics, but have other negative impacts on the environment, such as extremely high water consumption. For a correct comparison of impacts, the most recommended methodology is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The LCA is a detailed analysis that looks at the entire product lifecycle, covering ore extraction, material production, manufacturing, product use, end-of-life disposal and all the transportation that occurs between these stages.
The textile market represents what % of microplastics generation? The fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic microfibers entering our oceans. More than 1/3 of all primary microplastic pollution in our oceans comes from washing fabrics. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, this means that about half a million tons of plastic microfibers a year contribute to ocean pollution – 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics. Unlike microbeads, they cannot simply be removed from our supply chain. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reports that 22 million tons of microfibers will be added to our oceans between 2015 and 2055.
Does clothing only release microplastics in its first wash? No, but it is in the first wash that the most microplastics are released, and over time there is a reduction in the microplastics released. Even so, the problem is not solved by doing a prewash, as there is still considerable release of microplastics during the subsequent washes of the clothes.
What is accelerated decomposition (or biodegradability)? How it works? Biodegradability is the biological decomposition of a material. The first step is the fragmentation of the polymer if it is in size from macroplastic to microplastics, by different routes such as mechanics, UV, microorganisms, etc. After this step, depolymerization occurs by extracellular enzymes, which break the polymer chain, generating oligomers, monomers, etc. After depolymerization, assimilation occurs, also called bio-assimilation, in which microorganisms assimilate carbon and nutrients from the polymer to convert into biogas (CO2, CH4), water and biomass, which is called the mineralization phase.
Why are microplastics harmful to the environment and human health? Additives from microplastics and toxins from the marine environment absorbed in microplastics have a great capacity to absorb highly toxic compounds, such as heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, etc).
Does accelerated decomposition work in any aquatic environment? Our studies only cover the marine environment (seas and oceans). For the other untested environments we cannot say, because the conditions are different, such as temperature, pH, microorganisms, sediments, among other parameters.
Are all polyamides accelerated decomposition, or just Solvay's? Standard polyamide does not have accelerated decomposition. On Rhodia's product platform, Amni Soul Eco® has accelerated decomposition in the marine environment and in landfill.
What is the decomposition rate of Amni Soul Eco® polyamide? Amni Soul Eco® decomposes approximately 10 times faster in landfills and 20 times faster in oceans compared to a common polyamide.
Will the product last less if I use it in swimwear or at the pool? Not. The yarn decomposition technology does not impact the fabric's durability. That way, you can use your swimwear in the sea and pool and wash your clothes in general without harming the product's lifespan, its soft touch, etc. Marine decomposition aims to reduce the impacts of microplastics from the sea, which are released when washing clothes. Despite this aspect, the fabric should not be discarded at sea, but in the common waste (or recycling, in places where it is already possible) to be sent to landfills at the end of its useful life. The fabric will only decompose completely when disposed of in landfills.
Why doesn't it decompose on my machine? Can I use fabric softener? The conditions of the marine environment are not the same as in the washing machine, such as temperature, microorganisms responsible for biodegradation, pH, minerals, sediments, oxygen, light, enzymes, exposure time, etc. And yes, you can use fabric softener!
Do the characteristics of the polyamide remain unchanged even with the addition of the accelerated decomposition additive? Yup. The yarn technology does not impact the fabric's durability, which is the same as a conventional polyamide. That way, you can use your swimwear in the sea and pool without harming the product's lifespan, its soft touch, comfort, easy care, etc.
Will the product decompose with sweat? Won't it cause a bad smell? No! Sweat is very different from the marine environment, among the difference parameters are temperature, microorganisms responsible for biodegradation, pH, minerals, sediments, oxygen, light, enzymes, exposure time, etc. The smell of this yarn with sweat is equivalent to that of conventional polyamide.
When my clothes are old, can I discard them at sea? Not. Marine decomposition aims to reduce the impacts of microplastics from the sea, which are released when washing clothes. Whenever possible, the recommendation is to prolong the life of the product, through donation or sale as second-hand clothing. Since this is not possible, disposal must be carried out consciously: in conventional garbage collection. In this way, the waste will be sent to landfill and will end its life cycle.
Is this product of inferior quality due to its accelerated decomposition? Not. Thread technology does not impact fabric durability and quality. In this way, soft touch, easy care, feeling of lightness, etc. are similar to polyamide fabrics without accelerated decomposition.
Will clothes fade faster? Not. The yarn technology does not impact the durability of the fabric, which is similar to a conventional polyamide. Air humidity has no impact on the life of the product or its attributes.
How were the tests that prove the biodegradation of this product performed? The tests took place in an independent laboratory, following the ASTM D6691 - Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials in the Marine Environment by a Defined Microbial Consortium or Natural Sea Water Inoculum. By this methodology, the material is subjected to the marine environment and the decomposition is measured by the formation of biogas.
The product can be mixed with other materials such as cotton, polyester and spandex. In technical terms, yes, there is no impediment.
What is the minimum % of this material in the clothing composition for certification by Solvay? 85%.
Are there differences in product processing? Should adjustments be made to the knitting processes , finishing, etc? Not.
Can the material be used in single use products such as diapers? Polyamide is a durable material, so our recommendation is for use in longer life applications.
Can any material present in the product be harmful to health? Not.
Does accelerated decomposition mean that fabric with this new yarn will absorb bacteria more easily, causing odors or illness? Not. The action of attracting microorganisms occurs only in the marine environment and in landfill. In addition to being different microorganisms, the environment parameters are very different, such as temperature, pH, sediment, minerals, O2, etc.