Under the sustainability bill, footwear and fashion brands and retailers operating in the state of New York would be required to “identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address” the adverse impacts of their global production.
The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act would apply to retailers and brands with an annual turnover of more than US$100m and that operate in the state.
Specifically, brands would be required to map a minimum of 50% of their supply chain starting from farms where they source raw materials, through to factories and shipping.
They would then be required to disclose where in that chain they have the greatest social and environmental impact when it comes to fair wages, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water and chemical management, and make concrete plans to reduce those numbers, according to a report published by The New York Times.
Finally, it would require companies to disclose their material production volumes to reveal, for example, how much cotton or leather or polyester they sell. This information would have to be made available online.
Companies would be given a 12-month deadline to comply with the mapping directive and 18 months for impact disclosures. Violations would see a fine of up to 2% of their annual revenues with fines going to a Community Fund administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation and used for environmental justice projects. The New York attorney general would also publish an annual list of companies found to be non-compliant.
The bill was sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Anna R Kelles, and backed by a coalition of non-profits focused on fashion and sustainability, including the New Standard Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, as well as the designer Stella McCartney, The New York Times adds.
In a Facebook post, Biaggi said: “Ultimately, this bill will require the fashion industry to reduce its enormous carbon footprint and develop a thriving, sustainable, and equitable garment industry— something that has never been legislated before in the US.”
She also took to Twitter, noting the sector could be responsible for over 25% of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
Last year, 36 UK-based companies including Asos, Primark and New Look urged the UK government to introduce a similar Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD) law.