A new bill in the California State Assembly would require that all clothing made from fabric that is primarily polyester bear a label warning that the garment sheds plastic microfibres when washed.

The legislation – AB 2379 – also requires the label to recommend handwashing the garment in order to reduce the impact of plastic microfibre shedding.

Under this bill, the sale or offering for sale of such clothing without this label would be prohibited on and after 1 January 2020. Hats and shoes would be exempt.

Introduced by assembly member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), the bill claims garments made from synthetic fibres, such as polyester, can shed up to 1,900 microfibres per wash. And, according to a press release from Bloom, because these fibres are “small enough to get past filters”, they’re ending up in waterways and the ocean; posing a “serious threat” to the environment, and have been found within fish and shellfish that are consumed by humans.

“This issue cannot wait,” said Bloom, who also authored the 2015 landmark California plastic microbead ban that was applied nationally a year later through federal legislation signed by President Obama. “Plastic microfibres are making their way from washing machines into our seafood and even into the water we drink.”

According to international trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, the California Fashion Association (CFA) registered its opposition to the bill, warning that, like Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, it could result in a “raft of phony ‘class action’ lawsuits” against businesses.

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By GlobalData

CFA did not respond to just-style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.