News 2016 / February

Posted on

Textile industry – ChemSec’s view on the public consultation on CMRs

ChemSec encourages textile companies to support and comment on the proposed restriction of CMRs.

In October 2015 The EU Commission launched a public consultation concerning its proposed restriction of classified CMR substances in textile articles and clothing for consumer use. CMRs are substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction, and the proposed restriction regards category 1A and 1B. The deadline for commenting has been postponed until 22 March 2016, and ChemSec wish to encourage textile companies to take part in the consultation.

The proposed restriction is a test case for REACH article 68(2), often called the “fast-track”. Compared to “normal” restrictions, there will be no need for separate substance dossiers or additional opinions by ECHA committees. The restriction also targets a large number of substances at once.

The Commission has published a preliminary list of substances it proposes to restrict for use in textile consumer articles. The list contains 286 chemicals present in textile articles and clothing, including phthalates, flame retardants and pigments. The Commission specifically asks for information on these substances, on whether they are used in textile, socioeconomic aspects and availability of alternatives.

ChemSec position

ChemSec welcomes the proposal and believes that textile is a relevant product group because of the high likelihood of exposure of consumers to hazardous substances. Also, large parts of the textile sector is currently working actively to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, and a restriction like this can support this work and create a level playing field for all companies.

Except for information on the specific chemicals, where ChemSec will also provide input based on our SIN List and the Textile Guide, we find the following points important to emphasise:

• This restriction, which treats EU-manufactured articles equally to those produced outside of the EU, creates a level playing field for the whole sector. However for this to be true a number of conditions need to be met:

◦ The trace limits set in regulation must be low enough so that a restricted substance cannot be used in the process and then be washed out before the product enters the EU, only shifting the problem to manufacturing countries.

◦ Legal limit values for each substance should not be set higher than already used in the sector; this would create confusion in the supply chain. Rather the legal limits should be set at least equal to, or lower, than the lowest currently used.

◦ The substances included should be all CMR substances, which to the best knowledge are or could be used in textile manufacturing process. The list should hence be as complete as possible from the start. If not all CMR substances would be included from the start, there is a risk of shift to non-listed CMRs.

◦ In order to achieve a fully covering list of chemicals, group entries should be used and also included in the lists proposed by the finished regulation. In the current proposal substance groups, such as benzidine based azo dyes, have been disregarded and only substances with a specific entry in CLP have been considered.

• The scope is not clear enough, exactly what products that are to be covered by the restriction.

• We support this initiative targeting consumer products. It confirms and rewards the work to reduce hazardous chemicals which many textile companies already have put much effort in for years.

• Significant for textile industry are long and complex supply chains, which makes supply chain management challenging for the individual company. A common, legally binding list for all industry will be helpful, as it will facilitate supply chain communication and create a common basis for all companies, improving compliance and reducing auditing costs.

ChemSec sees this regulation as an important step. It makes good sense to start of with the classified CMRs and thereby use the possibility to connect the official classification closer to regulation. This is also the approach we have used for the SIN List. Hopefully, similar regulation can later be applied to other sectors. However, there is a need to address also other types of hazardous chemicals, including persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic compounds, as well as endocrine disrupters and other substances of equivalent level of concern. Therefore it is also extremely important that the authorisation procedure gains speed.