A guide into stress-free product compliance

What are textiles?

Disclaimer: This document provides guidance and is not a legally binding interpretation and shall therefore not be relied upon as legal advice.

What is textile?

Everybody knows textiles. Textiles are materials made from fibers, thin threads or filaments that are natural or synthetic or a combination of both. Textile fibers can be classified in natural (organic) fibres and man-made (synthetic, industrial) fibers, there is an enormous variety of textile fiber types available. Textile fibres can be spun into yarn and are processed into fabric by different methods such as weaving, knitting, felting etc.

Chemicals

The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Twenty percent of all world-wide fresh water pollution is caused by textile treatment and dyeing. Almost 2000 different types of chemicals are used in the textile industry. Residues of those chemicals remain present in fabrics.
There are many ways we come into contact with textiles in our everyday lives – the clothes we wear, the bed linen we sleep in, the towels we dry ourselves with and the furniture we sit on. Chemicals are added to these products for various reasons to improve them, but for some of us the chemicals cause troublesome health effects, including allergies.

Processing

To learn more about textile processing please consult the Chemsec Textile Guide.
The Textile Guide navigates through the process of chemical management from a textile industry perspective. It identifies the relevant problematic chemicals and presents ideas on alternatives (substitutes).
Chemsec, the International Chemical Secretariat, is an independent non-profit organisation.

Compliance risks

Lack of transparency and the complexity of the textile supply chain makes demonstrating chemical compliance nearly impossible. Many chemicals used in textile processing are present in the REACH candidate, authorization and restriction lists. Manufacturers and importers from textiles need to understand and monitor their regulatory obligations closely.

Manufacturers and importers from textiles are faced with increasing pressure from consumers and NGO's to identify and disclose potentially harmful chemicals in the products they are selling and to substitute chemicals of concern. One shall consider chemical management audits at factories.
And follow relevant industry group initiatives such as ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) or environmental stewardship programs such as LWG (Leather Working Group), or any other textile environment or sustainability plan.

Especially for textiles, transparency, communication and cooperation in the supply chain is of paramount importance.

For the chemical risk assessment of materials this is essential information.


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