Departmental Seminar

How should we mitigate pollution by clothing fibres: Should we avoid, intercept or re-engineer?

Dr Mark Browne
Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales

Globally over 50 billion apparel items per year are made from 70 million tons of fibre.  When clothes are worn and washed, they emit fibres into the environment via sewage and stormwater that cause their global dispersion from the Poles to the Equator and from the tops of mountains to oceanic depths.  Now fibres make up 85% of litter found in habitats and cause a range of biological impacts to organisms.  Particular clothing brands, the replacement of synthetic fibres with natural fibres, and wastewater filtering systems (sewage treatment, filters for washing machines) are marketed as ecologically effective means for mitigating such pollution but lack experimental verification.  This talk will discuss how interdisciplinary research is combining insights and methods from across the scientific and engineering disciplines to improve our understanding and management of the emissions and impacts of clothing fibres throughout their life-cycle.

Dr. Mark Browne received his B.Sc. and PhD in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology at University of Plymouth, studying the environmental and biological consequences of microplastic in marine habitats. He was invited to an EICC Post-doctoral Fellowship in Australia investigating the ecological impacts of urbanization and microplastic. Skills he developed in experimental design, statistics, quantitative ecology and conservation developed his interest in the ecological basis by which habitats can be sustainably managed. To pursue this, he secured an IRCSET Post-doctoral Fellowship in Ireland to test the ecological relevance of biomarkers in predicting the impacts of pollution on the structure and function of marine habitats. This led to an invitation to a NCEAS Post-doctoral Fellowship in the US to assemble and co-lead a working group investigating the sources, fate, risks and impacts of debris in marine habitats. 

Browne currently is a senior lecturer position at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of New South Wales where he secured multiple grants from the Australian Research Council and wastewater and environmental protection agencies to assess and reduce microplastic pollution in freshwater, terrestrial and marine habitats.


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Meeting ID: 854 9335 5390
Password: 944 788

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