HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 3 December 2021 – On 16 November, the international independent third-party testing, inspection and certification organization TÜV Rheinland organized this webinar with the support from Invest Hong Kong, and German Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong (GCC) to address the microplastics challenge along the global textile and garment supply chain.
Among the webinar speakers were:
Rakesh Vazirani, Head of Sustainability Services, Business Stream Products, TÜV Rheinland together with
Emily Choi, Senior Manager of Consumer Products, Invest Hong Kong,
Dr. Lei YAO (Gloria), Director of Project Development, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA),
Dr. Frank Lam, Assistant Professor of Engineering Education, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST),
Dr. Cindy Lam, Lecturer, Department of Ocean Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and
Gundolf Klaehn, Head of Environmental Component, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Mr. Bjoern Lindner, President of the GCC, stated in the opening speech that the German business community has long placed significant emphasis on sustainability and protection of our natural world at its core. One-third of the GCC members come from the supply chain industry, and are happy to see how all stakeholders work together to address the microplastics issue.
TÜV Rheinland shared background and summaries on its textiles-microplastics research/initiatives and introduced the concept of linking data about microplastics shedding at the pre-consumer stage, the fabric composition/design stage, and what is detected during testing at the garment/fabric level (as per TMC, AATCC methods).
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 35% of the ocean’s microplastics come from synthetic textiles. Microplastics shedding at the finished product level can be correlated with microplastics shedding at the pre-consumer stage in production processes depending on wet processes, fiber construction depending, fiber composition, etc. The full related data could perhaps tell a story to designers and manufacturers that they be able to configure their production processes in order to eliminate microplastics shedding, so the idea is to combine consumer stage data with pre-consumer stage data.
Dr. Cindy Lam and Dr. Frank Lam from HKUST developed the Smart Fish for real-time detection of microplastics in the ocean. The Smart Fish aims to replace lab-based testing for microplastics, which can be used in the future for different scenarios, including the textile industry.
Dr. Gloria Yao from HKRITA spoke about an ongoing project for microplastic fibre separation through sweeping acoustic waves. It expects the project at industrial scale, to agglomerate the filtered microplastic to form a cluster in macroscopic scale to provide convenience for any feasible after-treatment.
Gundolf Klaehn from GIZ introduced the Promoting Sustainability in the Textile and Garment Industry on Asia (FABRIC) program, which supports initiatives and innovation fostering the transitional change of the sector with the focus on reduction of harm to the environment and improving labour and living conditions.
In his closing remarks, KC Lam, Head of Consulate and Chamber Engagement, Invest Hong Kong stated: “We have started to educate the consumer on microplastics. They will soon be demanding better and higher standards for companies to live up to.” Microplastics have become a plastic pollutant of oceans on a global scale. Shaping solutions will include approaches based on detection and removal, product design and lifecycle thinking, as well as the involvement of key stakeholders.
TÜV Rheinland, as a trusted partner providing a suite of assurance services affecting interactions between people, technology, and the environment, will facilitate the development and implementation of these solutions.