OEKO-TEX announces new regulations for 2021

OEKO-TEX, the international independent textile testing institute, has reviewed their product requirements and published new regulations for 2021 on Tuesday. The changes will affect recycled materials in Standard 100, the Leather Standard, Made in Green and STeP, audits and the OEKO-TEX limit values. The new regulations will come into effect on 1st April 2021 after a three-months transition period. Here they are at a glance:

Recycled materials in Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX

Here, the testing institute has developed a uniform approach to integrate recycled materials for greater sustainability as part of its Standard 100 and to meet the industry’s demand for used materials. This requires a minimum amount of recycled materials in an article, different test programs depending on the origin of the material and the definition of the necessary background information. A hangtag should inform consumers about recycling in terms of a circular economy.

“Recycled materials are difficult to certify. With their previous life, recycled materials pose different challenges than virgin materials. For this reason, they are treated differently within the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX and receive a special mention in the scope of the certificate,” explains OEKO-TEX.

Leather Standard by OEKO-TEX for chrome- and metal-free tanned leather

As part of this standard, OEKO-TEX partner institutes will in the future also certify chrome- and metal-free tanned leather. “These natural products are tested for tanning metals with different limit values and receive a special mention in the scope of the certificate,” elaborates OEKO-TEX.

Made in Green and STeP by OEKO-TEX

OEKO-TEX’s objective for Made in Green, the sustainable label for textiles and leather articles, in 2021 is the systemic integration of the carbon and water footprint, which enable consumers to find out directly, by scanning the label of each product, what impact the manufacture of the respective article has on the ecosystem.

In order to evaluate the feasibility and to examine how the carbon and water footprint can be incorporated as an integral part of the OEKO-TEX portfolio, the testing institute has launched a pilot project already at the end of 2019 in cooperation with Calida, a globally active supplier of underwear and nightwear clothing, and Quantis, a leading international sustainability company known for their metrics-based approach to sustainability.

Made in Green is once again the strongest-growing OEKO-TEX product. Compared to the previous year, the number of valid labels rose by 267 percent from 1093 to 4010 (as of 31/12/2020). “Product labels such as Made in Green enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions through transparency and traceability of the supply chain, thus encouraging the use of climate-friendly and sustainable alternatives.”

Audits

In terms of audits, OEKO-TEX confirmed that it has introduced virtual assessments of production sites due to travel and contact restrictions imposed by Covid-19. This applies to assessments for Standard 100 and Leather Standard by OEKO-TEX as well as virtual on-site visits for STeP and Eco Passport certifications.

New and updated limit values

Based on a recent EU risk assessment, OEKO-TEX has also changed its limit values for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and salts as well as PFOA-related substances. For Eco Passport by OEKO-TEX, titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been added to the CAS number screening for respirable size particles as well as for STep by OEKO-TEX. Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS) are industrial chemicals that are mainly used in coatings for textiles such as outdoor clothing.
OEKO-TEX has also been part of a ZHDC team that recently published the first ZDHC White paper on air emissions. As part of the harmonisation process, OEKO-TEX has tightened the Sulphur dioxide (SO2) limits for air emissions from solid and liquid fuels as part of STeP by OEKO-TEX. Overall, the strict requirements for residues in textile materials are meant to lead to a lower impact on the environment, employees and consumers.

In 2021, OEKO-TEX is also observing various substances based on the latest scientific findings and conformity with relevant specifications. This primarily concerns some substances newly classified as SVHC, which, according to the REACH regulation for the protection of human health and the environment, have been identified as having particularly hazardous characteristics. These include diisocyanates, which can trigger allergic reactions through skin contact and inhalation. The chemical compounds dibutyltin bis(acetylacetonate), 2-methylimidazole and 1-vinylimidazole will also be closely examined in the future, promises OEKO-TEX.

The 2021 new regulations for all OEKO-TEX products are available in detail on the OEKO-TEX website or, those interested can avail of a free webinar on January 14th, 2021.

Image: Oeko-Tex website