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CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND RETAIL E-SSENTIALS

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USA requires new labelling for clothing made from synthetic fibers

march 2018 - Relevant for: softlines

Recently in USA, the states of California and Connecticut have proposed new laws requiring warning label and appropriate washing instruction for clothing made from synthetic fibers to prevent shedding of microfibres during washing.

Synthetic microfiber is a subcategory of microplastic that is shed from synthetic fabric when that fabric is washed. Such small nondegradable fibers that shed from synthetic fabrics are a major category of plastic pollution in water, pose a serious threat to the environment and contaminate the food chain, in fact such microplastic have been found within fish and shellfish.

According to the California’s proposed law, garments made from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester which accounts for about 50% of the total fiber market, can shed up to 1,900 microfibers per wash. This was also reported in the United Nation’s “UNEP Frontiers 2016 Report”1.

The California’s Assembly Bill AB 23792 which was introduced on 14 February 2018 would require that clothing made from fabric that composed of more than 50% polyester must bear a label stating: “This garment sheds plastic microfibers when washed. Hand washing recommended.”. Hats and shoes will be exempted. This Bill will be effective on 1 January 2020 if it is passed.

The Connecticut’s recently proposed Raised Bill No. 3413 requires the state to work with the representatives of the apparel industry and the environmental community to develop a consumer awareness and education program. The program will include warning label requirement for clothing to alert consumers of the presence of synthetic microfibers in clothing. It will also explain how microfibers are shed from clothing during washing and pollute the waterways, and the best practices to eliminate and reduce the release of microfibers from clothing into the waterways. The program is expected to be implemented not later than 1 December 2019.

[1] UNEP Frontiers 2016 Report 
[2] California’s Assembly Bill AB 2379 
[3] Connecticut’s Raised Bill No. 341

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