New York State Bill Would Increase Transparency Into Fashion Industry’s Environmental Footprint

A bill making its way through the New York State Assembly would put new scrutiny on the fashion industry and the environmental impact of its supply chain. The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act—or the Fashion Act—is a first-of-its-kind piece of legislation that would require fashion retail sellers and manufacturers with $100 million or more in global sales to map out and disclose the environmental and social due diligence policies associated with their products.

Under the new regulations, fashion brands would be required to post the environmental and social impacts of their supply chain on their websites within 12 months of the law going into effect. The mapping would cover all tiers of production, from raw materials to final products. Disclosures would include all relevant information including due diligence policies, and the processes and activities conducted to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for potential adverse impacts. Companies would have 18 months from when the law goes into effect to post an impact plan identifying where on their supply chains they can act to lower carbon emissions and address a range of issues such as worker wages, chemical usage and water consumption.

Companies in violation of the regulations that do not implement corrective steps within three months of notification of the violation could be fined up to two percent of their annual revenue. The Fashion Act establishes a Community Benefit Fund under the Department of Environmental Conservation that would use money raised through these fines to support environmental justice projects.

The Fashion Act is sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles, with support from several fashion and sustainability organizations, such as the New Standard Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and designer Stella McCartney. The Assembly is expected to vote on the measure this spring.

filed under January 2022
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