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In New York, fashion companies may soon be accountable for their environmental impact

Last year a new bill was introduced in the state of New York requiring fashion retailers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies.

The purpose of the bill is for fashion businesses to be transparent regarding the environmental and social impact of their activities, and set targets to improve those impacts. Criticism of the first draft has led to amendments and the bill will be re-considered at the next legislative assembly in January.

Called the “Fashion sustainability and social accountability act,” New York would be the first state to pass legislation to setting broad sustainability regulations for the fashion industry, holding brands accountable for their climate impact. The law would pertain to global apparel companies doing business in New York who have an annual revenue of 100 million dollars or greater. Sizeable brands from Adidas to Zegna, and high street to luxury, would all fall into this category.

As was reported in the New York Times at the time of the bill’s introduction, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles sponsored the bill along with backing from nonprofits including New Standard Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, as well as British designer Stella McCartney.

Greater transparency and reporting by fashion businesses

Under the act, fashion companies would be required to map supply chain transparency of at least 50 percent, starting with the farms where the raw materials originate through factories and shipping, according to Senator Biaggi. “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 (when it comes to carbon emissions, specifically in accordance with the targets set by the Paris Climate Accords).”

The current bill status is in the Senate Assembly. If it passes the senate and assembly in January it will need to be signed into law by New York’s Governor, which could be as early as 2023.


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