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CMRs in textiles - Member State's back Commission's restriction plan
The European Commission has proposed to limit the exposure to 33 chemicals that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR) by restricting their placing on the market in clothing, textiles and footwear. Member States supported the proposal, prepared under a simplified restriction procedure, in April. Now, the legislative proposal will undergo a scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council.
The substances targeted by the restriction proposal are found in products that consumers can be exposed to through direct and prolonged skin contact, inhalation, or unintentional ingestion of textile fibre dust. These include clothing and related accessories, footwear, and textiles other than clothing that touch the skin, such as bed linen, upholstery and reusable nappies.
Each of the substances has different properties and they are used in different processes in the textile and footwear industries, so maximum concentration limits have been specified for individual substances or groups of substances. This allows us to consider the technical feasibility of achieving the limits and the availability of appropriate analytical methods to be considered.
The restriction covers 33 CMR category 1A and 1B substances from the following substance groups:
- cadmium, chromium, arsenic and lead compounds;
- benzene and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs);
- chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons;
- polar aprotic solvents;
- azo-dyes and arylamines; and
A full list of the proposed substances and restricted concentration limits by weight is available in the draft regulation.
Clothing, related accessories and footwear (or their parts) made of natural leather, fur and hide, as well as non-textile fasteners and decorative attachments have been excluded from the proposal as different processes are used in their production.
Textiles used in medical devices are exempt, as they need to fulfil specific safety and functionality requirements.
In addition, second-hand articles that are in consumer use before the restriction applies are excluded as it would be nearly impossible to enforce in products already placed on the market. However, articles made from recycled fibres are to be covered by the restriction.
First of its kind
The proposal is the first simplified restriction prepared for articles using the structured approach agreed with Member States and stakeholders in 2014-2015.
The process started in late 2015 with a discussion between the Commission and Member States authorities on the criteria for implementation on articles, where textiles, clothing and footwear were listed as priorities.
Hazardous substances in these products had already previously raised concerns. The Commission had indications of the possible presence of CMR substances from the work done by some EU Member States and NGOs. So, it was a logical choice to target them through the simplified restriction route.
The simplified procedure makes it possible to address a larger number of CMR substances at once, rather than doing individual restrictions for each of the substances.
The procedure omits some steps of a standard restriction, such as a public consultation of the proposal and the opinions of ECHA’s Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-economic Assessment (SEAC).
Even if not required by the REACH procedure, the Commission consulted stakeholders on the scope and the list of possibly relevant substances to obtain more information on their use and presence in the concerned products. The Commission also organised a technical workshop with stakeholders and asked for feedback on the proposal.
Final adoption in autumn?
The Member States first discussed the proposal at the REACH Committee in February. The vote took place on 26 April. It will be published in the Official Journal of the EU after scrutiny by the Parliament and Council.
The regulation will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal. However, companies have 24 months to apply the law, so around autumn 2020 the restricted substances should no longer be present in the textiles mentioned in the scope.
EURATEX 'happy with the progress'
The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) has worked with the European Commission and other stakeholders for over two years to ensure that the restriction can effectively protect consumers, can be enforced and is feasible for industry. “An intense exchange of information between the Commission and stakeholders increased understanding of our sector-specific technical requirements and the industrial manufacturing processes. We were particularly pleased with the effective technical workshop organised by the Commission, which brought together experts from industry, Member States and civil society organisations. That showed clearly how alignment can be reached through open discussion,” says Ms Dunja Drmač, Sustainability Officer at EURATEX.
What EURATEX is still advocating for are: clarity in the scope to avoid different interpretations and applications across the EU single market and validated and harmonised test methods whose absence might lead to ambiguity over compliance. “These are essential for providing legal certainty,” she says.
Simplified restriction procedure
Text by Hanna-Kaisa Torkkeli
Published on: 17 May 2018
Top image: IStock.com/Jure Gasparic 2015
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