California Bill to Make Brands Responsible for Fashion Waste Problem

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
February 28th, 2023

The Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023, proposed earlier this month, would require apparel and footwear brands to account for what happens to their products after they're sold - a first in the U.S.

When it comes to managing textile waste in the textile and apparel industry, textile recycling is considered one of the best solutions because it is both environmentally and economically friendly. More and more dedicated textile and apparel manufacturers, researchers and fashion brands are developing innovations and methods to reduce textile waste and achieve greater benefits for the planet.

For example, Levi Strauss & Co, the world's leading denim manufacturer, is a dedicated fashion brand in textile recycling. The American denim company recently announced a plan to make all of its products from 100% recycled cotton by 2025. The ambitious plan means that Levi's will be the first fashion brand in the industry to stop using cotton sourced from cotton fields; instead, recycled cotton will be the main material used to make its jeans. In 2016, Levi's made the first 100% recycled cotton jeans from discontinued old T-shirts.

Similarly, the fashion giant has recently set a new goal to use only recycled or other sustainable materials in all of its products by 2030. H&M was also named the biggest global user of cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative in 2016.

Recently, apparel companies Decathlon, H&M, Ikea, Inditex, Kiabi, Mango and Tendam joined forces to create the Association for the Management of Textile Waste to manage textile and footwear waste generated in the Spanish market.



The Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023

In an effort to encourage apparel brands to further commit to reducing textile waste, a California bill was recently passed which would require apparel and footwear brands to account for what happens to their products after they're sold.

The Act, known as the Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023 has been administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, and will generally regulate the disposal, management, and recycling of solid waste. The act establishes stewardship programs for various products, including carpets, mattresses, and pharmaceutical and sharps waste.

The Act would require manufacturers, as defined, either individually or through the formation of one or more stewardship organizations, to establish a stewardship program for the collection and recycling of a covered product. The bill defines a "covered product" to include any garment, textile, or textile item that is not suitable for reuse by a consumer in its current condition.

The bill states that a program operator, as defined, must submit a complete stewardship plan to the department for review and approval, disapproval, or conditional approval. The bill provides that the program operator must review the plan at least every 5 years after approval. The bill also requires the program operator to submit an annual report to the department. The bill provides that all reports and records submitted to the Department must be submitted under penalty of perjury.

By expanding the penalty for perjury, the bill would mandate a state-mandated local program. It would restrict public access to certain information collected for the purpose of administering a stewardship program and require the department to post on its website a list of producers who meet the requirements of the program. The bill would require the department to promulgate rules for the program and would authorize the department to promulgate rules establishing a minimum recycling efficiency beginning January 1st, 2032.

This bill is the first of its kind in the United States and requires program operators to pay fees to the department that do not exceed the department's actual and reasonable costs of implementing and enforcing the provisions of the bill.



It would also establish the Textile Stewardship Recovery Fund in the state treasury for the deposit of all funding received from program operators and make the money in the fund available to the department upon appropriation by the Legislature for purposes of the program.

It also authorizes the department to impose administrative civil penalties for a violation of program requirements not to exceed $10,000 per day or not to exceed $50,000 per day for a willful, knowing, or reckless violation, as specified. The bill would establish the Textile Stewardship Recovery Penalty Account in the penalty deposit fund, which would be available for expenditure upon appropriation by the Legislature.

The bill would also exempt synthetic fiber textiles and synthetic fiber carpets from the carpet stewardship program. Existing constitutional provisions require that a bill restricting the right of access to meetings of public bodies or to the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the restriction and the need to protect that interest.