Fibre Fragmentation Scale: evaluating a proposed new method for reporting the results of fibre fragmentation testing

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Fibre fragments are released into the environment from textiles and clothing during both laundry and wear. Fibres have been found in every environment researchers have looked for them, from the deepest oceans to remote streams and glaciers, in our homes and work places, in the digestive tract of snails and the lungs of humans. 70% of the 100 million tonnes of textile fibres manufactured in 2016 were ‘plastic’ and more than 65% of all polyester polymer manufactured annually is used in fibre form.
So far, research into the source of ‘microfibres’, and test method development efforts, have focussed on wash testing of textile samples. Early papers reported the number of fibre fragments shed from textiles based on manual counts of fibres left behind when the effluent, or aliquots of effluent, were filtered. This counting process was prohibitively time consuming for Industrial application. Most of the more recent papers, ASTM, DIN and draft ISO test methods recommend gravimetric methods for reporting fibre loss during laundry. Our work has shown that gravimetric methods are not as reliable as they first appear, specialist scales are required and the mass of fibres fragmenting in each wash are so tiny that the errors in the measurement process are frequently larger than the results themselves.
Thus, the aim of our work was to devise and evaluate a visual Fibre Fragmentation Scale (FFS) that follows similar principles to other, Industrially accepted, visual scales used to evaluate pilling, colour fastness and shower-proofness in ISO test methods. We have developed several versions of an FFS scale and a training exercise that can quickly train users in the FFS rating system and concurrently discern the reliability of individual raters. Some raters have been found to have excellent consistency, accuracy and reproducibility, delivering reliable and easily communicable results quickly and efficiently. We suggest that the Fibre Fragmentation Scale could be an effective communication tool for brands wanting to communicate their textile’s fragmentation propensity/resistance to their consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023
EventPlastics Future 23 - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 202322 Jun 2023


ConferencePlastics Future 23
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • microplastics and the environment, microplastics and human health, redesign, communications, community engagement and ‘microplastics testing’


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