EU Ecolabel:Textiles

The European Ecolabel system allows the products of manufacturers, retailers or service providers to carry the distinctive ‘Flower’ label for marketing purposes throughout the 27 Member States of the EU.

The EU Ecolabel for clothing, bed linen and indoor textiles is a voluntary eco-labelling scheme from the European Commission encouraging the use of sustainable practices in textile manufacturing, including quantitative restrictions on waste-water emissions and hazardous substances. The use of sustainable fibres is also strongly encouraged.

What it applies to

Every product and service placed on the market in the European Economic Area – the European Union plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway – that meets the EU Ecolabel criteria for that product or service can be awarded the EU Ecolabel. Here is a quick fact sheet on the label and how it applies to textiles.

Key elements

Changes to criteria for sustainable cottons, recycled synthetics, and the recovery of wool waste along with the introduction of a new restricted substance list are some of the highlights of the latest version of the European Eco-Label standard. 

The EU Ecolabel Regulatory Committee has voted to accept new criteria proposals for textiles labelled to the EU Eco-Label standard. The new criteria replaces the previous decision (2009/567/EC) passed in 2009, and comes into force for at least a four-year period. 

The textile product criteria for the EU EcoLabel standard was approved at a meeting of the EU Ecolabel Regulatory Committee towards the end of 2013, where it was agreed that cotton and other natural cellulosic fibres will have to contain a minimum content of organic or ‘IPM’ (integrated pest management) cottons (see below).

In addition, criteria have been put in place for man-made cellulosics, recycled synthetic fibres and wool scouring. 

Other significant changes are that fluorine chemistry used to make water, oil and stain repellent fabrics are banned under the voluntary standard, and for the first time a brand new restricted substance list has been introduced. 

The Eco-Label revision comes as part of the European Union’s stated drive to ensure 10 – 20 per cent of textiles sold in Europe are eventually aligned with EU Eco-Label criteria. These criteria are revised and continually tightened – usually every four years – to take into account the state-of-the-art textile innovation in a bid to help consumers identify products with the lowest environmental impact throughout their life-cycle.

Minimum content

New changes in the revision relate to tougher new criteria for synthetic textile fibres that would ensure EU Eco-Labelled polyester and nylon fabrics either contain a minimum recycled content (either pre- or post- consumer for nylon) or address VOC or N2O emissions to air from fibre and polymer production sites. 

The new criteria also states that if the 70 per cent recycled content threshold is not achieved for nylon, then Eco-Labelled goods should be made of 20 per cent recycled material, or reduced N2O emissions.

Geographic RegionEurope
Life Cycle StageManufacturing
Type of StandardVoluntary standard
ProductApparel
RequirementMaterials

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