SAFEGUARDS | Softlines NO. 026/18
In California, a new bill (AB 2379 ) has recently been introduced by the California State Assembly that will require all clothing made of fabric containing more than 50% polyester to bear a conspicuous label that warns of plastic microfiber shedding during regular washing. Instead, it will recommend hand washing the garment to reduce the impact of plastic microfiber shedding. According to the bill, microfibers are tiny plastic fibers that shed from synthetic fabric during regular washing and are the single most pervasive type of plastic pollution. Garments made from synthetic fibers, such as polyester, can shed up to 1,900 microfibers per wash. Effluent from washing machines and wastewater treatment plants are a significant source of microfiber pollution, entering both waterways and the ocean. This poses a serious threat to the environment, with microfibers being found in fish and shellfish that are consumed by humans.
California’s new bill aims to educate the public on recognizing the emerging threat that microfibers pose to the environment and water quality, and will provide information about the sources of microfiber pollution. The bill also intends to reduce the amount of microfiber that enters the environment and is subsequently consumed by wildlife.
AB 2379 will become effective January 1, 2020 after which the selling or offering for sale of clothing without the required label would be prohibited. Hats and shoes will be exempt.
In Connecticut, the General Assembly recently released the Raised Bill No. 341  which proposes improving consumer awareness and establishing an education program. Included in the program would be a clothing labelling requirement that would alert consumers to the presence of synthetic microfibers in clothing and would explain how microfibers are released during washing and can result in pollution of waterways. The program is expected to be implemented not later than December 1, 2019.
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