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Source: Branford Patch

Sen. Kennedy Leads Passage Of Bill To Help Stop Plastic Pollution

The legislation, passed by the Connecticut House and Senate, marks the first state law in the nation to address clothing fiber pollution.


Posted: May 15, 2018
Originally Published: May 14, 2018

From CT General Assembly: In the final hours of Connecticut's May 9 legislative session, Environment Committee Co-Chairman StateSenator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) led successful General Assembly passage of House Bill 5360, which address the growing problem of microplastic pollution in Connecticut's rivers, lakes and coastal waterways.

The legislation, passed by the Connecticut House and Senate, marks the first state law in the nation to address clothing fiber pollution.

Microfibers are tiny pieces of plastic lint from synthetic clothing fabrics that are released in the washing machine during the normal washing cycle, with some garments shedding up to 2,000 microfibers per wash.

These microfibers are too small to be trapped by ordinary municipal wastewater treatment facilities, so they end up contaminating our rivers, streams and Long Island Sound. Recent studies show the presence of nearly 20,000 strands of plastic microfibers per square kilometer in lakes and coastal waterways, accounting for about 20% of all waterborne plastic pollution.

"The dramatic increase of microfibers in our rivers and coastal waters represents an alarming environmental and public health issue," said Sen. Kennedy. "Most consumers are not aware of how clothing fibers and microscopic pieces of plastic lint from synthetic fabrics are poisoning our waterways and our food supply. Clothing manufacturers cannot continue to deny responsibility for the economic, environmental and public health costs of microplastic pollution. We need to engage the apparel industry to help Connecticut develop a consumer awareness and microfiber reduction action plan."

H.B. 5360 calls for the creation of a working group -- made up of representatives of the apparel industry and environmental community -- to develop a consumer education and awareness campaign and to report their recommendations to the Environment Committee before the start of the next session in January 2019, so the General Assembly can consider further legislation.

The clothing fiber pollution bill received supportive public testimony from nearly 150 people, including The Nature Conservancy and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, making it one of the largest public responses to any environmental bill before the legislature this session.

Kristen Kern, Government Relations Representative for the American Apparel and Footwear Association, expressed initial concern about the bill, but said the apparel industry is ready to join the working group and develop possible solutions.

"Our members are committed to creating safe and high-quality products for their consumers in a safe and responsible manner," Kern said. "That increasingly includes use and end of life analyses and best practices to limit any harmful impact of garments on the environment."