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New Legislation influencing U.S. Textile Industry

While the environmental need for circularity in the textile industry is clear, legislative decisions push consumers and businesses towards more circular models. At Recover™, we help the businesses we partner and collaborate with stay on top of key legislative changes to be one step ahead of industry standards.

Wondering what changes are coming up in the United States? Let’s explore some of the key legislative policies influencing the textile industry in the U.S. today.

National Changes

In early 2024, the United States Senate proposed the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act. Currently under review, the FABRIC Act is a proposed federal legislation aimed at revitalizing the US domestic garment industry and establishing the US as a global leader in responsible apparel production through new workplace protections and manufacturing incentives.

The FABRIC Act is centered around combating subminimum wages, establishing new liability measures for workplace violations, introducing recordkeeping and transparency measures, and creating a Domestic Garment Manufacturing Support Program. Overall, the FABRIC Act could have significant impacts on the fashion and textile industry worldwide as manufacturers would be incentivized to reshore manufacturing.

Specifically looking at the circular textile industry, a new US bill is tackling circularity on a federal level. The Americas Act is a bipartisan bill that includes over $14 billion in incentives for circularity across apparel, footwear, accessories, and home linens. Similarly, to the FABRIC Act, the Americas Act incentivizes reshoring and nearshoring manufacturing to the US, but specifically from China. Given the forced labor issues in Xinjiang, the US continues to try and encourage American textile businesses to bring manufacturing back to the US.

The Americas Act puts a strong emphasis on textile recycling. Rachel Kibbe, CEO of Circular Services Group and American Circular Textile Group stated, “With the bold textile reuse and recycling incentive provisions in the Americas Act… we have the opportunity for the US to reposition itself as a global leader through localized circular textile manufacturing.”

In March 2024, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted its Final Rule on the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures. The SEC has published a Fact Sheet, which covers the highlights of the final rule. ​

The final rules require a registrant to disclose, among other things: material climate-related risks; activities to mitigate or adapt to such risks; information about the registrant's board of directors’ oversight of climate-related risks and management’s role in managing material climate-related risks; and information on any climate-related targets or goals that are material to the registrant’s business, results of operations, or financial condition.​

The ruling will apply to larger companies by 2025 and 2026 and smaller companies will begin to disclose starting in 2027 but will be exempt from disclosing GHG emissions. Staying ahead of the norm, Recover™ already discloses most of this information yearly in the Sustainability Report.

New York Halts Sustainable Act

The NY Fashion Act would require fashion companies that do business in New York to disclose their impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions. The bill requires fashion companies with revenues over $100 million USD to not only disclose their supply chains across all production tiers, but also specify where in the process they generate the most impact (for example: labor abuses, greenhouse gases, and chemical use). Affected companies would then be required to reduce their impacts so that they align with the bill’s outlined targets – which include, for example, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to be in line with the Paris Agreement. Variations of the Fashion Act are pending in New York (S4746/A4333), Massachusetts (HD 3083), and Washington (SB 5607), but the Acts in Washington and Massachusetts are not proceeding this year.

California’s Fabric Recycling Pilot

Passed in 2022, California bill SB 1187, could greatly impact garment manufacturers in the Golden State and the results could influence policies enacted worldwide.

The Fabric Recycling Pilot Project established various pilots in the Counties of Los Angeles and Ventura in partnership with garment manufacturers to study and report on the feasibility of recycling fabric.

While updates have yet to be shared, the industry eagerly awaits as results are expected to be shared no later than January 1st, 2027. The pilot project is exploring the following elements:

  • Creating accessible textile collection sites
  • Developing a hub for consolidating pre-consumer textile scraps
  • Remanufacturing of fibers
  • Increasing capacity to sort textiles
  • Community engagement and education

Pending the results, this large pilot has the potential to address a huge issue currently plaguing the international textile recycling industry sourcing.

Additionally, California’s new Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023 would require producers to establish a stewardship program for the collection and recycling of any apparel or textile products that are unsuitable for reuse by consumers in its current state or condition. The Act aims to facilitate the repair and reuse of clothing and the recycling of textile fibers and will be enacted under the Bill SB 707. The legislation would establish an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for textiles unsuitable for reuse by consumers.​

SB-707 would also establish the Textile Stewardship Recovery Fund, which would receive the paid fees The funds collected will be allocated to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to cover the costs associated with program implementation and enforcement. These fees have the potential to foster the use of recycled materials, paving the way for more textile recycling in the industry.

Massachusetts Textile Waste Ban

Taking more drastic measures than California, Massachusetts passed an extensive textile waste ban, which was implemented at the beginning of last year. This textile waste ban stems from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, which has a goal to reduce disposal statewide by 30% by 2030.

As a result of the 2030 Plan, the Massachusetts Textile Waste Ban was introduced on the disposal of textiles including clothing, footwear, bedding curtains, fabric, and other similar items. It applies to all businesses and residents that generate or hold textile waste in Massachusetts.

Businesses in the State are expected to find reuse and recycling systems for textile products they wish to discard, which positively impacts the textile recycling industry. To help businesses and residents manage the textile ban, the Massachusetts government has established their Beyond the Bin recycling program which allows for donations of unwanted items. The state website also lists a variety of retailer take-back programs making it easier on residents to properly recycle their textile waste.

Looking Forward

As a key player in the textile industry on a global scale, it is important to follow updates made surrounding policies in the U.S. With pilot programs like what is being tested out in California, and waste bans being implemented like in Massachusetts, the negative environmental impact of the textile industry could soon be reduced. Recyclers have a huge potential to positively provide solutions as new legislation is introduced throughout the U.S.

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