New York Could Be First to Pass Legislation Setting Sustainability Regulations With Fashion Act
At the beginning of January, New York legislators introduced the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act — or Fashion Act. If the bill is passed, it would make New York the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that would require fashion retail sellers and manufacturers with $100 million or more in global sales to disclose the environmental and social due diligence policies associated with their products.
According to The New York Times, the bill is “sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles, and backed by a powerful coalition of nonprofits 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.”
Under the new law, companies that fall under the parameters would have to map a minimum of 50% of their supply chain, starting with the farms where the raw materials originate through factories and shipping. They would then disclose where they have the greatest social and environmental impact when it comes to fair wages, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and water and chemical management, and make concrete plans to reduce those numbers (when it comes to carbon emissions, in accordance with the targets set by the Paris Climate Accords) in that chain.
Companies would have 12 months to comply with the mapping directive, and 18 months to post an impact plan from when the law goes into effect. Those that violate the regulations and do not implement corrective steps within three months of notification of the violation could be fined up to 2% of their annual revenue. Fines would go to a new 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 noncompliant, according to The New York Times press release.
While it would only apply to fashion retail sellers and manufacturers with $100 million or more in global sales, the proposed bill calls to light the growing push for more sustainable practices across the apparel industry as a whole regardless of size. “Sustainability in the apparel industry is more than a product or lifestyle, it is a movement,” says Marci Kinter, vice president – government and regulatory affairs for PRINTING United Alliance. She adds that this movement is not going away any time soon.
“The issue of sustainable fashion continues to capture news and headlines, and we do see companies stepping up,” Kinter continues. Conversations are taking place everywhere, including during the Digital Textile Printing conference that took place in December 2021. “With less than 15% of textiles recycled, the continued shift to one of the circular economy is growing. [It] may not impact your operation today, but it is critical that every apparel decorator keep on top of this growing phenomenon,” Kinter says.