Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic are believed to shed microfibers during washing. Filtration in domestic appliances is unable to capture these microfibers, which ultimately end up in inland waterways and the sea. It is believed this pollution will eventually affect human health as well.
Concerns are now being raised about this major source of pollution. In response, three U.S. states have proposed legislation that will encourage consumers to reduce the release of microfibers.
California – earlier this year, California proposed bill AB 129. The bill would require the state board to identify best practice for clothing manufacturers that will reduce the release of microfibers. In addition, they will evaluate microfiber filtration systems, adopt a standard methodology for evaluating filtration systems, and publish the results of efficiency tests for various filtration systems.
The bill also requires public entities that use laundry systems, and private entities with state agency laundry contracts, to install filtration systems by January 1, 2020. Private entities that use industrial or commercial laundry systems will need to install filtration systems by January 1, 2021.
Connecticut – House Bill 5360 was passed in May 2018. Following this, a working group representing the apparel industry and the environment community has been tasked with developing a consumer awareness and education program concerning the threat of synthetic microfiber pollution. It will include consumer-oriented information explaining the shedding process and the dispersion of microfibers through waterways. It will also include the best practices for consumers to reduce and eliminate shedding, and information on industry efforts, including labelling, to reduce or eliminate microfiber shedding.
New York – Assembly Bill A01549 was introduced In April 2018. This proposes labeling for garments containing more than 50% synthetic fiber, indicating that they will contribute to microfiber waste. The purpose of this labeling is to encourage handwashing. If passed, the regulation will come into effect on January 1, 2021.
Microfiber pollution is a hot topic for the clothing industry at the moment. Stakeholders are advised to keep informed on the various changes that may affect compliance, as new information appears.
SGS Softlines Services
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SGS SafeGuardS keep you up to date with the latest news and developments in the consumer goods industry. Read the full U.S. Concerns on Microfiber Pollution SafeGuardS. [www.sgs.com/en/news/2019/05/safeguards-07619-us-concerns-on-microfiber-pollution]
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