Oeko-Tex certification helps in achieving REACH compliance
After the expiry of the three-month transition period, the criteria and limit values published by the OEKO-TEX Association in early January for tests on harmful substances for textiles according to the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 finally came into force on 1 April 2012 for all certification procedures.
The new test requirements also consider, as is usual, all the Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) from the ECHA Candidate List relevant for textile production including the 20 chemicals added on 19 December 2011. Every OEKO-TEX Certificate issued will also confirm that the certified item group complies with the provisions of Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation relating to restricted substances such as azo-dyes or nickel.
If chemicals declared by ECHA as candidate substances are not yet listed as independent test parameters in the OEKO-TEX Criteria Catalogue, and which may however be used in textile production along the individual value chain phases, the OEKO-TEX Association tests an explicit exception.
Therefore the identification and publication of further SVHC substances, within the remit of the implementation of the REACH Regulation, will according to the OEKO-TEX Secretariat, continue to be monitored closely in view of the further development of the OEKO-TEX test criteria.
The most important new regulations of the OEKO-TEX Criteria Catalogue 2012 are:
• Synthetic fibres on which solvents are used during the spinning process, such as elastane and polyacrylic as well as coatings and polyurethane foams will now, with immediate effect, also be tested for N-methyl-pyrrolidone and Dimethylacetamide Both chemicals are listed in the new category “Residual Solvents” and must not exceed a limit value of 0.1 percentage by mass. If the value is found to exceed this 0.1 percentage by mass, this will be marked on the certificate and thereby supports the duty to disclose required by REACH.
• Relevant test samples such as coated items, plastic oil prints, flexible foam materials and accessories made of plastic are investigated for four new softening agents: Di-C6-8-branched Dialkylphthalate, Di-C7-11-branched Dialkylphthalate, Di n hexylphthalate (DHP) and Bis(2-methoxyethyl)phthalate. These are integrated into the phthalates already listed in the OEKO-TEX Standard 100. The total limit value of 0.1 percentage by mass remains in place and the test for the additional phthalates is always carried out at the same price.
• The limit value for extractable chromium is specified for leather products in product class IV at 10 mg/kg. This exception from the usual chromium limit values for textile items corresponds to the currently best available technology in the market and does not conceal any toxicological risks for the intended use of such products.
• Irrespective of the newly created test parameters, the scope of the control tests conducted worldwide on OEKO-TEX certified products of a previous minimum of 15 % of all certificates issued annually will in future be expanded to 20%. In practice over the last few years, an average of 18% of certificates were examined using product samples from the retail trade at the cost of the OEKO-TEX Association.