A new bill in the California State Assembly (AB 2379, introduced Feb. 14) would require all clothing made from fabric that is more than 50 percent polyester to bear a conspicuous label warning that the garment sheds plastic microfibers when washed and recommending hand washing. Under this bill, the sale or offering for sale of such clothing without this label would be prohibited on and after Jan. 1, 2020. Hats and shoes would be exempt.

According to the bill, garments made from synthetic fibers such as polyester can shed up to 1,900 microfibers per wash. Because these fibers “are small enough to get past filters,” a press release from bill sponsor Richard Bloom states, “they’re ending up in waterways and the ocean.” The bill asserts that microfibers “pose a serious threat to the environment and have been found within fish and shellfish that are consumed by humans.”

The bill is asserted to be in line with other California efforts at reducing water pollution, including a ban on personal care products containing plastic microbeads that the press release notes “was eventually applied nationally … through federal legislation signed by President Obama.” Other California efforts include standardized compostability labeling, a requirement for polystyrene packaging to be recycled, and Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

The California Fashion Association registered its opposition to the bill, warning that, like Prop 65, it could result in a “raft of phony ‘class action’ lawsuits” against businesses.

For more information, please contact Elise Shibles at (415) 490-1403.


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