[21 March/Otago Daily Times]

The New Zealand Merino Company is investing in research to look at the impacts of microplastics on the environment and the benefits of natural fibres as a solution. Its Chief Executive, John Brakenridge, said New Zealand was in a position to provide sustainable fibre alternatives. Synthetic textiles created microplastics through abrasion and shedding of fibres, which were then discharged in wastewater and potentially ended up in the ocean. Particles released during the washing of synthetic clothing accounted for 35% of this pollution, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Mr Brakenridge added that there is high interest in sustainable wool fibre and referenced the shoe company Allbirds who had a business model based on natural fibres