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Oeko-Tex Releases New Regulations for Sustainability and Hazardous Materials

As the new year begins, Oeko-Tex has updated its guidelines, test criteria and limit values for their certifications and services in line with consistent consumer protection and the sustainability of textiles and leather products.

Currently, 16,000 manufacturers, brands and retailers in nearly 100 countries work with Oeko-Tex to ensure that their products are tested for possible harmful chemicals, using Oeko-Tex labels as information for their purchasing decisions. After a transition period, all new regulations will come into force on April 1.

“Oeko-Tex aims to provide customers and partners with the best possible services and certifications,” Oeko-Tex secretary general Georg Dieners said. “For this reason, the test criteria for Oeko-Tex standards are updated at least once a year based on new scientific information or statutory requirements. A special project in 2021 will be the integration of the carbon and water footprint into our Made in Green label.”

One key change is that Oeko-Tex has developed an approach to integrate recycled materials for greater sustainability as part of the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex label and certification. This uniform approach requires a minimum amount of recycled material in an article, different test programs depending on the origin of the material and the definition of the necessary background information.

A hangtag informs consumers about recycling in the context of a circular economy. Recycled materials are difficult to certify, the organization noted. With their previous life, recycled materials pose different challenges than virgin material. For this reason, they are treated differently within Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex and receive a special mention in the scope of the certificate.

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In the Leather Standard by Oeko-Tex, partner institutes will now also certify chrome- and metal-free tanned leather. These natural products are tested for tanning metals with different limit values and receive a special mention in the scope of the certificate.

The Made in Green and STeP by Oeko-Tex certifications are also evolving. Made in Green, the fastest-growing label, will integrate the carbon and water footprint into the label. This will enable consumers to find out directly, by scanning the label of each product, what impact the manufacture of the respective article has on the ecosystem.

In order to evaluate the feasibility and examine how the carbon and water footprint can be incorporated as an integral part of the Oeko-Tex portfolio, Oeko-Tex launched a pilot project at the end of 2019 in cooperation with Calida, a globally active supplier of underwear and nightwear clothing, and Quantis, a sustainability company known for its metrics-based approach to sustainability.

Based on a recent European Union risk assessment, Oeko-Tex has also changed its limit values for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and salts, as well as PFOA-related substances. Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS) are industrial chemicals that are mainly used in coatings for textiles such as outdoor clothing.

In Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex, titanium dioxide has been added to the number screening for respirable size particles. In this context, the STeP by Oeko-Tex manufacturers restricted substances list (MRSL) has also been expanded to include titanium dioxide for respirable sized particles.

Oeko-Tex has been part of a ZHDC team that recently published the first ZDHC white paper on air emissions. As part of the harmonization process, Oeko-Tex has tightened the sulfur dioxide limits for air emissions from solid and liquid fuels as part of STeP by Oeko-Tex.

Oeko-Tex is also observing various substances in 2021 based on the latest scientific findings and conformity with relevant specifications. This primarily concerns some substances newly classified as SVHC, which, according to the REACH regulation for the protection of human health and the environment, has been identified as having particularly hazardous characteristics. These include diisocyanates, which can trigger allergic reactions through skin contact and inhalation. The chemical compounds dibutyltin bis(acetylacetonate), 2-methylimidazole and 1-vinylimidazole will also be closely examined in the future.