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EU Establishes New Criteria under Eco-Labeling Scheme for Textiles and Apparel

Friday, June 27, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2014, issue of the Advisor, a weekly publication of the ST&R-TAP service, and is reprinted here with permission.]

The European Commission recently issued a decision establishing new ecological criteria for the award of the European Union’s Ecolabel for textiles and apparel. The eco-labeling program is a voluntary effort that seeks to promote the sale of products in the EU that have a reduced environmental impact. Producers must meet certain criteria to use an Ecolabel in their products. In the case of textiles and apparel, these criteria seek to promote environmentally-friendly production practices and exclude whenever possible or restrict the use of a number of substances identified as hazardous or potentially hazardous to human health and the environment. The criteria also encourage the use of recycled fibers, organic cotton, and cotton grown without the use of certain pesticides.

Textile and apparel products eligible to carry an Ecolabel include (1) textile clothing and accessories consisting of at least 80 percent by weight of textile fibers, (2) textile products for interior use consisting of at least 80 percent by weight of textile fibers, (3) fibers, yarn, fabric and knitted panels intended for use in textile clothing and accessories or interior textiles, including upholstery fabric and mattress ticking prior to the application of backings and treatment associated with the final product, (4) zips, buttons and other accessories that are incorporated into the product, as well as membranes, coatings and laminates, and (5) woven or non-woven fabric products intended for the wet or dry cleaning of surfaces and the drying of kitchenware.

Excluded from the scope are (1) products intended to be disposed of after a single use, (2) floor coverings, (3) fabrics that form part of structures intended for outdoor use, and (4) garments, fabrics and fibers that (i) contain electrical devices or form an integral part of electrical circuitry or (ii) contain devices or impregnated substances designed to sense or react to changes in ambient conditions.

Ecolabel applications submitted by Aug. 13 may be based on either the new or the previous ecological criteria, although the authorization to use the Ecolabel would expire fairly quickly if the old criteria are used. Ecolabel licenses awarded in accordance with the old criteria may be used through June 13, 2015.

A copy of the new Ecolabel criteria for textiles and apparel is available here.

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