In a popular Reddit post, users engaged in a heated discussion about new research that uncovered an alarming truth — condenser tumble dryers, touted as a “sustainable option,” are shedding substantial quantities of microfibers into the environment.
Some consider condenser tumble dryers more eco-friendly than vented dryers because they don’t vent exhaust gases. Previous studies have found that vented dryers release microfibers — microscopic pieces of plastic that synthetic fabrics shed — into the air when vents pump warm, moist air outside.
One Reddit user posted a link to a Science Hub article on the topic in the r/ZeroWaste subreddit. Redditors were surprised to find out condenser dryers release similar amounts of microfibers but through different means.
Dryers condense moist air into water and hold it in chambers outside appliances. This generates similar amounts of microfiber pollution, which drain into waterways.
Researchers discovered that for every 2.2 pounds of fabric dried, approximately 340 milligrams of fibers release into the environment.
When scaled to populations across the UK and Europe, this amounted to a staggering 661 tons of microfibers entering waterways annually from tumble dryers alone.
Regulators are beginning to address pollution in the laundry room. France was the first to introduce new legislation requiring all new washing machines, similarly responsible for microfiber pollution, to be equipped with microfiber filters starting in 2025.
In the meantime, Redditors expressed their frustration with this ongoing issue in the comment section, especially as many view tumble dryers as wholly unnecessary.
Another user said, “I think there is definitely merit in trying to reduce the use of washers, and especially dryers to the possible minimum.”
Many Redditors highlighted that this issue also stems from the fashion industry, which commonly uses textiles derived from plastics to make cheaper clothing.
“The junky textiles we buy and wear do all the microplastic shedding,” a Reddit user added. “The washer and dryer collect some of these loose fibers, which end up all over the environment.”
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