09 Apr 2021

Manuel Barbero at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB

Manuel Barbero, from Girbau Group’s Industrial Solutions department, explained the key concepts of microplastic contamination and the impact on industrial laundry in the online session held on March 25 at the Girbau LAB Innovators Club.

In a dynamic and participatory session, Manuel Barbero detailed the parts involved in the emission of microplastics and how these actions impact the environment. “Microplastic contamination is a cycle. We generate the problem and this problem comes back to us ”, says Manuel.

In a second part of the session, Barbero stopped to highlight the impact that microplastics have on industrial laundry, explaining how the laundry ecosystem works and detailed the actions that Girbau is taking to minimize the emission of microplastics.

In this sense, Manuel Barbero is currently developing a research and industrial  Phd project linked to the subject under the title “Efficient use of water and reduction in the discharge of microplastics in industrial laundry processes”. And, beyond the presentation, delve into some ideas through the interview that we share below.

Barbero explains the keys to how innovation is linked to tangible solutions to microplastic pollution and the challenges Girbau is facing to reduce its carbon footprint to 0.

Manuel Barbero at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB

1. What impact does microplastic contamination have on the industrial laundry sector?

Microplastic pollution associated with the washing of synthetic garments and therefore laundry, represents 35% of the primary microplastics in our oceans. This, in addition to posing a danger to the marine environment and all the forms of life that inhabit it, also generates an impact on our way of life as humans since it has been shown that most of the fish we consume contains microplastics. According to the latest studies, it is estimated that we consume between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastics annually and traces of these contaminants have been found in the human placenta.

2. How is innovation linked to tangible solutions to microplastic pollution?

Innovation is based on the search for new solutions to improve aspects of daily life. In this sense, it would be the tool to solve problems that are emerging due to their novelty. In this sense, investment in innovation is a very effective tool, since it allows not only to preserve the economic activity that is the source of pollution, but also brings it closer to a more sustainable future, sometimes constituting a motor of change towards global sustainability.

3. How is this challenge tackled at Girbau?

At Girbau, we began to be aware of the environmental problems that our activity generates, and a sustainability agenda has been proposed for several years in order to reduce our carbon footprint to 0. This agenda includes actions focused on both elements from the productive system as the final disposition of our products. In this way, we will continue to add value to the client while contributing to the environment.

4. What efficiency and sustainability improvements do you envision for the laundry industry in the next 5 years?

Until now the focus has been on increasing the efficiency of the systems. In the coming years, it will be the center of the reuse of resources, especially water and thermal energy. Sustainability and especially the protection of the environment, will be and is being one of the engines of change for the global industrial sector.

5. How will clothes be washed in 2050?

It is a difficult question. Although in a different way and with a different objective than the current one. Another possible innovation that could occur in the coming decades is to substitute the use of water for other liquid or gaseous substances with greater ease to regain their stain-carrying capabilities.