Opponents to microfibre labelling say garments already convey extensive information – on product safety, fibre content, care instructions, and country of origin – and that further information would be lost

Opponents to microfibre labelling say garments already convey extensive information – on product safety, fibre content, care instructions, and country of origin – and that further information would be lost

The US state of Connecticut is understood to have shelved plans for microfibre labelling in garments, but will instead set up a working group to study the issue of synthetic clothing and microfibre pollution.

Earlier this year the state followed California's lead in introducing a bill that would require all clothing made from primarily polyester fabric to carry a label warning consumers the garment would shed synthetic microfibres when washed.

However, the version of the bill approved by the legislature – H.B. 5360 (originally S.B. 341), An Act Concerning Clothing Fiber Pollution – "removed a labelling requirement and other concerning language from the original bill," according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

Instead, it requires the formation of a working group to study the issue of synthetic clothing and microfibre pollution – a move the AAFA believes could also sweep across several state legislatures.

The working group will include representatives from the apparel industry and the environmental community, and will aim to develop a consumer awareness and education programme around the presence of synthetic microfibres in clothing and how their release during washing can pollute waterways.

The working group is due to convene by 1 July 2018.

The AAFA has spoken out in the past against product labelling as a solution to the problem of microfibre pollution, arguing it would impose costs and legal liabilities on companies that use safe and sustainable materials – and would create confusion on the part of consumers, who would most likely ignore the labels.

The trade association also claimed the original Connecticut bill reached a "non-fact-based conclusion that faults garments made with synthetic fibres for microfibre pollution, and that without further scientific evidence, a label would not solve the problem."

Instead, it called for construction details and other parameters to be investigated. And it argued regulation against synthetic materials may lead to increased use of natural fibres like cotton, leading to other environmental consequences such as increased land and water use.

Meanwhile, California and New York State are both considering bills that would require extra labelling for products with synthetic fibres, identifying them as contributors to microfibre waste in waterways.

Additionally, New York's legislature is considering product labelling to encourage hand-washing of synthetic garments.