EU Ecolabel:Textiles

Regarding polyester, if the recycled content is less than 70 per cent, two out of the following three measures apply: (a) antimony presence under 260 ppm; (b) recycled content 50 per cent for staple fibres and 20% for filament fibres: and (c) tight emissions of VOCs during the PET production for chips and fibre. 

The EU committee also voted through stringent proposals that mean specific cotton apparel items, such as t-shirts, jeans, casual shirts and socks and underwear, labelled as organic must contain at least 95 per cent organic cotton, as per the EU 834/2007 and US National Organic Programme standards. 

All cotton blended with organic cotton needs to come from non-genetically modified sources, and clothing for babies of less than 3 years old (labelled as organic) shall contain a minimum of 95 per cent organic cotton. 

Alternatively, and reflecting concerns about the market availability of organic cotton, if these same items of clothing are made with non-organic cotton, to meet Eco-Label criteria they must be made up of at least 60 per cent ‘IPM’ cotton that is grown in line with the principles as defined by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) IPM programme. All cotton content must also be free of specific listed pesticides. 

Organotin is not allowed during the production of elastane fibres, and lead pigments are not to be used for the production of polypropylene. The use of manual and mechanical sandblasting to achieve distressed denim finishes is not to be permitted. 

For flax and other bast fibres, new requirements for retting have been introduced. As before, these plants should be retted under ambient conditions and without thermal energy inputs to extract the fibrous pulp, and where water retting has been used, the wastewater from retting ponds shall be treated so as to reduce the COD or TOC by at least 75 per cent for hemp fibres, and by at least 95 per cent for flax and other bast fibres. 

Wool textile changes

The wool textile criteria have been tightened with new limits for the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of process water prior to any on-site treatment, as well as final COD before discharge of effluent. 

For example, in order to be labelled with the ‘Eco-Flower’, wool scourers need to demonstrate they have recovered value from waste grease, fibre, suint or sludge either for sale as a feedstock for the production of compost or the use of these by-products in other products such as building materials. For anti-felting and shrinking resistance halogenated substances or preparations shall only be applied to wool slivers and loose scoured wool. 

For man-made cellulose fibres, a minimum 25 per cent of pulp used to make the fibres shall be manufactured from wood that has been grown according to the principles of sustainable forestry management, and bleached without the use of elemental chlorine. 

In addition, pulp used to manufacture cellulosic fibres should be bleached without the use of elemental chlorine. The resulting total amount of chlorine and organically bound chlorine in the finished fibres (OX) should not exceed 150 ppm, or in the wastewater from pulp manufacturing (AOX) should not exceed 0.170 kg/ADt pulp. 

Geographic RegionEurope
Life Cycle StageManufacturing
Type of StandardVoluntary standard

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