Samsung laundry filter traps microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics
At CES 2023 in January, Samsung hatched a plan to stem the tide of microfibers shed during washing cycles from entering seas and oceans via a special wash program and an external filter. Now that Less Microfiber Filter has launched.
As a washing machine gets to work removing dirt and refreshing clothing during a laundry cycle, wearables get bounced and bumped around inside the drum. This causes microfibers or microplastics from synthetic materials to break away and get flushed out through the waste water, and into the environment.
For more than a year, Samsung has been working with outdoor clothing maker Patagonia on solutions to "address the challenge of microplastics shedding during the laundry process and polluting oceans and other bodies of water."
The collaboration tapped into a technology designed to be gentler on fabrics, while also cutting down on energy use, to develop a new wash program called the Less Microfiber Cycle, which was added to compatible Samsung washing machines in Europe, Korea and the US following the announcement in January. A network update including the preset will be available for older Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung washing machines later this year.
The Less Microfiber Filter was also part of Samsung's CES sustainability presentation, and has now been confirmed for release in Korea and Europe (though we've no pricing details as of writing). Made using recycled plastics and designed for easy maintenance and long service life, the device is reported compatible with "any washer on the market."
It sits outside the washing machine and appears to operate in a similar fashion to last year's successfully crowdfunded Gulp device. "The filter’s blades capture the microplastics with a 65-70 micrometer wide mesh, then redirect and compress these microplastics to one side, meaning the filter only needs to be cleaned roughly once a month," explained Samsung's presser.
Tests at the Ocean Wise Plastics Lab showed that up to 98% of microfibers were trapped by the filter during a wash cycle of synthetic fibers, the "equivalent to eight 500-ml plastic bottles per year when used four times a week." The device is also compatible with the company's SmartThings platform, allowing users to receive alerts via a mobile app when the filter needs to be emptied.
"With microplastics emissions to our oceans continuing to increase and regulations being strengthened in many countries, as well as microplastics becoming a growing health concern for people everywhere, Samsung worked with Ocean Wise and Patagonia to engineer technology to prevent the release of microplastics from our daily life," said Samsung's Moohyung Lee. "With innovations like the Less Microfiber Filter and Cycle, Samsung is enabling Everyday Sustainability in a wider array of products and making eco-conscious daily practices second nature in the home."