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On 26 April 2018, the REACH Committee of the Council of the European Union voted in favor of several initiatives of the European Commission. The committee agreed to endorse the proposal to further restrict substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR), category 1A or 1B, by banning their use in clothing, textiles and footwear. The regulation amends Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation and is currently in the drafting stage.
Following the recommendation from the Council's REACH Committee meeting held on 26 April 2018, the European Commission has issued the draft regulation in order restrict the use of 33 CMR substances from use in clothing, textiles (other than clothing) which come into contact with human skin, and footwear, if they are present in concentrations above a certain level. The restriction would also apply to the placement on the market and importation of textile goods into the Union containing any of the listed substances.
The goal of this proposal is to reduce the exposure of EU citizens to CMR substances via clothing, footwear and other textile exposures, especially related to high risks from imported goods.
Certain CMR substances are added intentionally in textiles to give them specific properties, while some CMR substances are present in textiles as contaminants from the manufacturing process. The exposure to those substances via inhalation of textile particles or through dermal exposure may have a severe health impact to the population.
Although most of the everyday textile items will fall under the scope of this proposed regulation, some exclusion will apply:
- Medical devices are subject to another regulation and thus will not fall into scope under these restrictions regarding CMR substances in textiles.
- Personal protective equipment within the scope of Regulation 2016/425/EU are also excluded from the scope of this draft.
- All textiles intended for use in clothing, related accessories and footwear that are made entirely out of natural leather, fur or hide, are also excluded from the scope of this draft regulation, because it is estimated that other types of chemical substances are used for their processing.
- Non-textile fasteners and decorative attachments should not be covered by the new restrictions for the same reason as the natural leather textiles.
Supply chain impact
The regulation would not only affect manufactures and importers of textiles goods in the EU, but also downstream users in these sectors because they will also have to comply with the new restrictions by following strict established limits to the 33 listed CMR substances for use in textile products.
It is important to bear in mind that not only the clothing industry will be affected, but sectors such as hotel industries or home furnishings stores will fall under the scope of this draft regulation, as they are dealing with the textiles products as well.
In order to comply with the planned restrictions, affected stakeholders will have to perform a detailed and thorough assessment of the substances which are present in the textile goods they are either manufacturing or using. The Commission will, however, give a period of two years to all stakeholders to fully comply. This draft regulation is expected to pass the Parliament, and it can be expected to be published by the end of 2018.