New York State’s Apparel Ban on PFAS Will Shake the Fashion Industry
On May 24, 2022, the New York Assembly and Senate passed a bill, S.6291, that would ban the sale of any apparel in New York State that contains intentionally added PFAS beginning on the 31 December 2023. New York Fashion PFAS legislation, which must be signed into law by the Governor before taking effect, would have significant impacts on hundreds of businesses involved in the fashion supply chain, and a letter was submitted to Governor Hochul on September 1, 2022 asking the governor to either veto the bill or give industry more time to comply with the law. In the absence of a veto on the bill, companies involved in the fashion industry must take action now to prepare not only for the impact of New York’s bills on sales, manufacturing and supply, but also the possibility of other states taking similar action in New York. York.
New York Fashion PFAS Legislation
S.6291 is a relatively simplistic bill that will prohibit the sale of any garment in New York State with intentionally added PFAS. The bill defines clothing as “…garments intended to be worn regularly or on formal occasions, including, but not limited to, underwear, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, jumpsuits, jumpsuits, vests, dancewear, costumes, sarees, scarves, tops, leggings, casual wear, formal wear, onesies, bibs and diapers. does not include professional uniforms or outerwear intended for extreme conditions.” The ban on PFAS in clothing would come into effect on December 31, 2023.
On September 1, 2023, however, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) sent a letter to Governor Hochul asking him to veto the bill or extend the deadline for compliance, adopt a threshold that would trigger a clothing ban and allow the industry to sell all existing clothing to avoid having to throw away the products. The governor has until the end of the year to sign or veto the bill, so AAFA is likely to continue its appeals to the governor in the days and weeks ahead.
Impact of the New York Fashion PFAS Act on Business
New York legislation puts a consumer product used by every citizen in the state in the crosshairs regarding PFAS and, if enacted, would force the apparel industry to pivot over the next fifteen months to s sourcing materials that do not contain any of the more than 10,000 types of PFAS that exist, changing manufacturing processes to ensure compliance, and making potentially financially significant decisions regarding current apparel inventory and any apparel manufacturing as companies transition to “PFAS-free” garments. Other states have proposed or are considering PFAS apparel legislation (California), but New York’s legislation is considered particularly aggressive due to the relatively short time to compliance and its extremely broad definition of PFAS (a fluorinated atom).
It is of the utmost importance for companies throughout the apparel supply chain to assess their PFAS risk. Public health and environmental groups are urging lawmakers to regulate these compounds. One of the major points of contention among members of various industries is whether to regulate PFAS as a class or as individual compounds. Although each PFAS compound has a unique chemical composition and has a different impact on the environment and the human body, some groups argue that PFAS should be regulated together as a class because they interact with each other in the body, resulting in a collective impact. Other groups argue that the individual compounds are too diverse and that regulating them as a class would be too restrictive for some chemicals and not restrictive enough for others.
Businesses need to stay informed so they are not caught off guard. States are increasingly passing PFAS product bills that differ in scope. For all manufacturers, especially those selling goods interstate, it is important to understand the impact of these different standards on them, whether PFAS are regulated as individual compounds or as a class. Performing regular self-audits for possible exposure to PFAS risk and potential regulatory violations can result in long-term cost savings for companies and should be commonplace in their own risk assessment.
©2022 CMBG3 Law, LLC. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 258