Two US states have published bills that will introduce new labeling requirements for polyester clothing. Both California and Connecticut have introduced these bills to improve consumer awareness about the dangers of plastic microfiber shedding during the washing process.
Microfiber shedding from textiles made from synthetic fibers, including polyester, is a major contributing factor in the plastic pollution building up in the Earth’s oceans. Garments made from synthetic fibers can shed up to 1,900 microfibers in every wash. These microfibers then enter the water system, with effluent from washing machines and wastewater treatment plants being recognized as a significant source of microfiber pollution. This pollution poses a serious threat to the environment, with microfibers being found in fish and shellfish that are consumed by humans.
California has introduced bill AB 2379, which 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. It will recommend hand washing such garments to reduce the impact of plastic microfiber shedding.
The new bill also aims to educate the public about the emerging threat of microfibers and will provide information about sources of microfiber pollution. It is hoped the bill will reduce the quantity of microfibers entering the environment and being consumed by wildlife.
AB 2379 will become effective on January 1, 2020. After this date, the sale or offering for sale of any clothing without the required label would be prohibited. The bill exempts hats and shoes.
At the same time, Connecticut has issued Raised Bill No. 341. This bill proposes improving consumer awareness and establishing an education program around the dangers of microfibers. The program will also include 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 waterway pollution. The program is expected to be implemented by December 1, 2019.
Stakeholders are now advised to check their products comply with the latest developments in textile garment legislation for US states.
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