In 2019, Arçelik, a major European home appliance company, unveiled the world’s first washing machine with an integrated microplastic filter. Originally slated for a 2020 release but delayed by COVID, Arçelik and its sub-brand Grundig have finally made this technology, known as the FiberCatcher, available for consumer purchase.
Gundig’s website claims that the washer will be able to trap up to 90% of all microfibers that separate from their origins in washing cycles. According to a 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), microfibers washed off products such as synthetic clothes and car tires could contribute up to 30% of the plastic waste that ends up in the environment. Furthermore, a study done by Orb Media Inc showed that 83% of tap water samples analysed contained microplastics; of these, 99.7% were microfibers.
A FiberCatcher can last up to 26 cycles or approximately 6 months. Arçelik will then take responsibility for the collected plastics, recycling them in accordance with industry standards. Another feature of the machine is WaterCare, which utilizes more jets of water and less cycles in order to reduce the motions and therefore the microplastics that are emitted during the process.
The tubs for the machines are also sustainable, as they were made from recycled materials. A total of 250 tons of plastic were recycled into the tubs, which saved 5.7 million kWh energy and prevented 885 tons of CO2 emissions.
Committed to environmental health, Arçelik has made its technology available to its competitors in the hope to spark additional innovation. CEO Hakan Burgurlu stated, “As a company with a global footprint, with products and services in 146 countries, we made it our mission to do everything within our power to make a change as time is running out in the fight against environmental disasters, most importantly climate catastrophe.”