Monday February 01, 2021
A Stitch-in-Time: EU Textile DevelopmentsBy Tracey Bischofberger, Cooley LLP
In the EU, work has been continuing on proposed restrictions for certain substances harmful to human health in clothing and textiles. The European Commission has also published further details of its strategy for a sustainable textiles policy. Below is our round-up:
Potential restrictions on BPA in clothing and textiles: The European Commission has been reviewing bisphenol A (BPA) in clothing and textile articles (PSL, 1/13/20) and requested a scientific opinion from the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) to assist the Commission to assess the risk of the presence of BPA in clothing and textile articles and the potential need for legislative amendments under EU chemicals legislation and/or enforcement measures under the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC). A preliminary opinion from the SCCS was published in October 2020 and concluded that at current estimated levels of exposure "there is no risk for adverse effects of the estimated exposure levels of BPA resulting from the use of clothes, independent of the age group of the consumer" and a "concentration limit of around 145 mg BPA/kg textile could be proposed as a preventive measure to ensure the protection of consumers" from high exposure scenarios. This is said to be "conservative and in line with the 130 mg/kg limit value that has recently been proposed to reduce the risk of sensitisation due to BPA in textiles." Feedback from stakeholders and the scientific community on the preliminary opinion closed in December 2020, and the SCCS is currently assessing feedback received before releasing its final opinion.
Proposed restrictions on over 1000 skin sensitising substances in clothing and other articles. Work has also been continuing on a proposed ban that would restrict clothing, footwear and other articles that come into contact with human skin from being placed on the EU market if they contain certain skin sensitizers (PSL, 1/13/20). A skin sensitizer is a substance that will lead to an allergic response following skin contact. The report submitted in support of the proposal includes the following textile products in scope (amongst others): sports equipment (such as a ski mask), gloves, hats, bags and fashion accessories (such as a wristwatch strap). The proposal was originally put forward by Sweden and France. Two committees (SEAC and RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) adopted opinions supporting the proposed restrictions in 2020. The next step is for the European Commission to make a decision on the proposed ban, together with EU Member States. According to a press release from the ECHA, over 1,000 skin sensitisers are in scope of the restrictions.
EU strategy for sustainable textiles. The European Commission has published further information about its strategy for sustainable textiles in the form of a Roadmap on 5 January 2021. The aim of the strategy is to help the "EU shift to a climate-neutral, circular economy where products are designed to be more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy-efficient." The policy initiative will propose various actions including (among others) measures to tackle the presence of hazardous chemicals in textiles and the release of microplastics from textiles. It will explore ways to reinforce the protection of human rights, environmental duty of care and due diligence across value chains, including improving traceability and transparency. Feedback on the Roadmap closes on 2 February 2021, with a public consultation scheduled for Q1 2021.
The opinion on BPA in clothing is at bit.ly/2HGqEgM. ECHA's press release on proposed restrictions for skin sensitising substance is at bit.ly/3025T5t. The EC webpage for the strategy for sustainable textiles is at bit.ly/3onDal2.
Dispatch from the EU is a monthly feature provided exclusively for PSL subscribers by Cooley LLP, www.cooley.com. For further information about the above, contact Rod Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.