Westminster has been urged to better California after legislation was vetoed in the US state that mandated microplastic filters in all new washing machines, commercial and domestic,  by 2029.  The call from Matter and A Plastic Planet comes as the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, vetoed the legislation earlier this month. (8 October). 

The text passed both the lower and upper house of the California State Legislature and was expected to be signed into law by Governor Newsom by campaigners and businesses alike. Governor Newsom stated: “I am concerned that this bill will increase costs to consumers in advance of further research being completed and establishing the public policy rationale and details for new residential requirements.”

He went on to suggest “alternative approaches” should be considered to “incentivise, rather than a mandate on the use of filters”.

However, campaigners and business leaders insist the mandate would be a cost effective method of protecting the environment, with France already set to implement similar legislation and the EU now progressing regulation in this space. 

In the UK, there are now calls from campaigners A Plastic Planet and microfibre filtration company Matter for Westminster to go further than California and mandate the use of filters. 

The Microplastic Filters (Washing Machines) Bill is currently in its second reading within the House of Commons having been introduced by Alberto Costa MP in 2022. If passed the bill would require washing machine manufacturers to fit microplastic-catching filters in all new domestic and commercial washing machines in the United Kingdom. 

There are now more than 171 trillion pieces of microplastic floating in our waters[i].  

Textiles create 35% of the world’s primary microplastic pollution[ii] with some 60% of textiles now made from plastic fibres[iii]

Every time clothes are washed, up to 700,000 plastic fibres are released from washing machines and into waterways[iv].  

France was the first country to introduce legislation in 2020 on the issue, passing legislation that required every new washing machine must have a filter to catch plastic microfibres by 2025. 

Matter is a Bristol-based company that produce technological solutions for capturing, harvesting, and recycling microplastics that has been working with French manufacturers ahead of 2025. 

Rob Hemsley, CFO, Matter, reacted to the Californian legislation’s demise, stating “"We are disappointed that pioneering proposals in California which would see microfibre filters required on all washing machines sold after 2029 have been vetoed by the state governor.

"This progressive policy has enjoyed strong support from both Houses and with textiles accounting for 35% of all microplastics that enter our oceans, it's vital that urgent action is taken to tackle this problem at source.

"Environmental campaigners and industry leaders are working together to end our microplastic pollution crisis and to develop the technological solutions we desperately need for the future. 

"France has already shown that lawmakers can take bold action when we work together, we now need California and the rest of the world to follow suit."

Sian Sutherland, co-founder, A Plastic Planet and Plastic Health Council believes the human health impacts of plastic requires comprehensive legislation going beyond just the mandate of microplastic filters.  

“The mandatory capture of plastic fibres should be a first step, filter technology being essential in cleaning up the toxic mess we have created, but if we truly want to protect our planet and our health, we must transition to a fully circular system that embraces the use of natural plastic free materials and reuse; a system where plastic particles are the exception and not the norm,” he said.

“As Westminster continues to regress on environmental protections, others such as France are pulling way ahead in implementing progressive legislation that is desperately needed.” 

[i] Eriksen, Marcus, 2023, A growing plastic smog, now estimated to be over 170 trillion plastic particles afloat in the world’s oceans—Urgent solutions required, Plos One,

[ii] European Environment Agency, 2022, Microplastics from textiles: towards a circular economy for textiles in Europe,,global%20marine%20environment%20each%20year. 

[iii] European Environment Agency, 2023, Plastic in textiles: towards a circular economy for synthetic textiles in Europe,

[iv] University of Plymouth, 2016, Washing clothes releases thousands of microplastic particles into environment study shows,,environment%2C%20according%20to%20new%20research.