Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

 

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of once beautiful beaches that are now covered in plastic waste. This problem means that birds, turtles and other forms of sea life are now required to share their habitats with endless mounds of bottles, straws and other discarded plastics.

 

So far, most of our efforts to clean up the ocean have focused on single use plastic products. But the plastics we see are actually only the tip of the iceberg. Below the ocean’s surface lurks an invisible threat that grows more serious by the day, and makes the development of eco-conscious products and solutions more important than ever.

 

 

Our Oceans: A Sink for Microplastics

Scientists estimate that the ocean floor alone is now home to over 14 million tons1 of what are called “microplastics”. These tiny pieces of plastic are often too small to see with the naked eye, but can also measure up to 5mm in size.

 

But, while often incredibly small, these microplastics can have devastating effects on ecosystems and even human health. Around the world, more than 80 percent of tap water samples contain traces of microplastics.2 One study from the World Wildlife Fund estimates that humans ingest the equivalent of one credit card of plastic per week3 through the air they breathe and the water they drink.

 

 

Where Do Microplastics Come From?

Microplastics can enter the environment in a few different ways. The first is when they’re released directly as small plastic particles, such as microbeads. These substances are known as primary microplastics. The second way is when larger plastics from everyday items break down over time into tiny pieces. These types are known as secondary microplastics.

 

But another form of microplastic that many people aren’t aware of is the kind that is released from our laundry when we wash synthetic textiles. That includes your favorite fleece sweater, your nylon jacket, and yes, even those comfy spandex yoga pants. From manufacturing these fabrics to washing them, microplastics can be created throughout many stages of these products’ lifecycles.

 

 

Partnering Up To Stop Microplastics

However, there is hope on the horizon that we will soon be able to start eliminating microplastics from our waterways. NGOs, governments and brands around the world have taken note of the rising number of these invisible but harmful plastics and are taking important actions to help keep them out of our oceans. Add-on filters for washing machines and protective laundry bags are just some of the solutions that are now available to help capture some of the microplastics released during washing.

 

 

Working With Samsung To Stem the Tide

While add-on filters and laundry bags are a start, more holistic solutions are needed to cut down the amount of microplastics that are released throughout a product’s lifecycle. That’s why Samsung is working with Patagonia on a joint solution.

 

Together, the companies are working on a feasible, effective and expandable way to combat the microplastics that result from textiles and laundry. Samsung is taking the goal of cleaner oceans to heart by designing a sophisticated new washing machine that lets people safely wash their favorite garments while minimizing the impact of microplastics. And this eco-conscious solution will come without compromising on the high-performance cleaning and care that Samsung’s washers are known for.

 

This is only the latest in a long line of steps Samsung is taking to create long-lasting appliances that improve environmental sustainability. Samsung’s washers already use a unique feature called Ecobubble™, which lets consumers clean their clothes efficiently, even at low temperatures, by generating a greater amount of bubbles. This helps the detergent quickly penetrate fabrics and remove dirt, all while saving energy and protecting the color and texture of the clothing.

 

What’s more, the AI Wash feature makes use of sensors to measure the weight of the load and the level of soiling to ensure that the optimal amount of water, detergent and energy is used to get that specific load clean – cutting down water waste, and using less energy in the process.

 

Collaborations like the one between Samsung and Patagonia can help turn the tide on ocean pollution. With its commitment to sustainable living, Samsung will continue working to design products that minimize its impact on the environment. Because the best way to get plastics out of our oceans is to prevent them from ending up there in the first place.

 

 

1 “Microplastic Pollution in Deep-Sea Sediments From the Great Australian Bight,” CSIRO, (2020)

2 “Invisibles The Plastic Inside Us,” Orb Media, (2017)

3 “No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People,” World Wide Fund For Nature, (2019)

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