“Fast facts” on the matter of health safety
Over the last few years, among the multiple challenges the laundry sector had to face, compliance with health and environmental safety regulations has become a top priority. Companies have to acquire new skills and the knowledge necessary to fully understand the chemical processes involved in their own production operations and invest in analytical control measures to ensure their product can legally be sold on the market….
A great deal of pressure is also being exerted by the opinion of a public ever more aware of and sensitive to the topic of ecological sustainability.
Fact 1: forthcoming developments of EU Regulation REACH
REACH proposal to restrict nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEO)
Annex 17 of Reach may soon include a new restriction on NP and NPEO, nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates. These products, of excellent cleaning capabilities, are customarily added to the final wash of textiles but are highly toxic to aquatic species once discharged in the water. For more information see the English version of the technical report issued by Greenpeace, which started advocating the elimination of these products from the textile supply chain a few years ago: http://www.greenpeace.to/greenpeace/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/dirty_laundry_product_testing_technical_report_01-2012.pdf.
Barring unforeseeable delays in the approval process, the new restriction may go into effect at the beginning of 2015. It will require textile fabrics to contain less than 100 mg/kg of nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates (individually or combined) in order to be legally sold on the market. Currently nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates are classified by REACH as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), the maximum allowable content of which is 0.1%, or 1000 mg/kg per article.
Fact 2: news from Norway
New restriction on PFOA
The Norwegian Ministry of Environmental Affairs has just approved Regulation FOR-2013-05-27-550, introducing a restriction on the manufacture and import of textile articles containing PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a substance used in fluorocarbon resin-based water and oil repellent finishes.
In Norway the production, import or export of any substance or article containing PFOA beyond the following limits, including its salt and esters, will be forbidden:
• PFOA in compounds < 0.0001 % (10 mg/kg)
• PFOA in solid products < 0.1%
• PFOA in textile articles < 1 microgram/m2
The new Norway market restrictions will go into effect on 1 June 2014.
Fact 3: the latest report by Greenpeace
“Monsters in your closet”
In January 2014 Greenpeace issued its latest report on toxic fashion: “A Little Story about the Monsters in Your Closet”. It focuses on children’s clothing and footwear made by well-known international brands.
The results confirm the findings of previous reports: the presence of toxic chemicals in clothing and footwear cannot be ignored. More specifically, the report addresses the presence of Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE’s), Phthalates, Organotins, Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC’s) and Antimony.
While praising the commitment of many international brands Greenpeace renews its challenge to clothing manufacturers and urges governments to undertake the measures needed to achieve “zero discharge” within one generation and therefore completely eliminate chemicals that are hazardous to human and environmental health from the entire textiles industry supply chain.