U.S. Concerns on Microfiber Pollution
Clothing made of synthetic materials are believed to shed microfibers during home laundry, and can easily migrate from household waste water ultimately into the ocean, causing environmental pollution. Some states have proposed bills to address the issue.
SAFEGUARDS | Softlines NO. 076/19
Clothing that is made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic may shed plastic microfibers in home laundering. These microfibers escape filtration finding their way into water systems and ultimately into the oceans, causing a major source of pollution. Some researchers find that microfibers may pose threats to waterways and aquatic life, and eventually human health. To address the growing concerns of microfibers, three U.S. states have proposed legislation to bring awareness to consumers about reducing the release of microfibers.
The legislature in California proposed a bill, AB 129 early this year, to recognize the emerging threat that microfibers pose to the environment and to make related declarations. The bill requires the state board to identify best practices for clothing manufacturers to reduce the amount of microfibers released into the environment, evaluate microfiber filtration systems, adopt a standard methodology for evaluating the filtration systems, and publish the results of filtration efficiency of various filtration systems. The bill also requires a public entity that uses a laundry system, and a private entity that contracts with a state agency for laundry services, to install a filtration system to capture microfibers that are shed during washing by 1 January 2020. Until 1 January 2021, the bill requires private entity that uses an industrial or commercial laundry system to install a filtration system to capture microfibers.
In May 2018, Connecticut passed House Bill 5360 to address microplastic pollution. Based on the House Bill, a working group of representatives from the apparel industry and environment community was convened to develop a consumer awareness and education program concerning the presence of synthetic microfiber pollution. The program shall include consumer-oriented information explaining the process by which microfibers are shed from clothing and dispersed in the waterways, best practices for consumers to eliminate or reduce the shedding, and information on the efforts of apparel industry members, including labelling, that are undertaking to reduce or eliminate microfibers shedding.
New York Assembly Bill A01549 was introduced In April 2018, which proposes labeling of garments containing more than 50% synthetic fiber to encourage hand-washing and to label the products as contributing to microfiber waste. If passed, the regulation would be effective January 1, 2021.
SGS Global Softlines has an extensive network of over 40 laboratories worldwide, with a strong team of committed professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds. Our internationally accredited state-of-the-art testing laboratories offer a comprehensive range of physical, chemical and functional testing services for components, materials and finished products. We help your company ensure quality, performance and compliance with international, industrial and regulatory standards worldwide. Discover more at www.sgs.com/softlines.
For enquiries, please contact:
Stay on top of regulatory changes within your industry: subscribe to SafeGuardS!
Read more articles for the Consumer Goods and Retail industry© SGS Group Management SA - 2019 - All rights reserved - SGS is a registered trademark of SGS Group Management SA. This is a publication of SGS, except for 3rd parties’ contents submitted or licensed for use by SGS. SGS neither endorses nor disapproves said 3rd parties contents. This publication is intended to provide technical information and shall not be considered an exhaustive treatment of any subject treated. It is strictly educational and does not replace any legal requirements or applicable regulations. It is not intended to constitute consulting or professional advice. The information contained herein is provided “as is” and SGS does not warrant that it will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of performance or quality. Do not quote or refer any information herein without SGS’s prior written consent.