The European Commission set criteria for awarding the EU Ecolabel to textile products earlier this month, with the goal of identifying products that have a lower environmental impact along their life cycle.
An Ecolabel is a voluntary performance certificate awarded to products and services assessed from creation to use and disposal, and determined to be eco-friendly. To be awarded the label, goods must be: sourced from more sustainable forms of agriculture and forestry, manufactured using resources and energy more efficiently, manufactured using cleaner, less polluting processes, manufactured using less hazardous substances, designed and specified to be of high quality and durable, according to the EU Commission.
With regard to eliminating or minimizing hazardous substances from the textile producing process, manufacturers must ensure goods do not contain elements listed in the Ecolabel restricted substances list (RSL), or whenever possible, restrict the harmful substances to minimum concentration. The criteria also stipulate that final products do not include substances of very high concern (SVHC), or those on the candidate list.
Manufacturers will be required to disclose all product and chemical contents, outline assessment and verification steps taken, and communicate any restricted substances to supply chain players like those involved in spinning, dyeing, printing and finishing, who may need to comply with it.
The European Apparel and Textiles Confederation (Euratex) did not comment on the specific criteria outlined, but did voice concerns that some aspects of the requirements could discourage companies from applying for the label.
According to Euratex, “Some of the criteria are not really workable in practice and this is stemming from the philosophy of the Ecolabel,” Chemical Watch Reported. Euratex noted that Ecolabel is being “too enthusastic” and companies will not be able to fulfill some of the proposed criteria.
The textile product category includes textile clothing and accessories, interior textiles, fibers, yarn, fabric, knitted panels, non-fiber elements like zippers, buttons and laminates, and woven or non-woven fabric products intended for the wet or dry cleaning.
Manifacturers seeking the label will have to demonstrate compliance with the criteria as relevant to the material composition, chemical formulations, production sites and fitness for use of products they wish to carry the Ecolabel.
For further information, see the full list of Ecolabel criteria here.