Summary

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment. Today the EU Ecolabel covers a wide range of products and services, including textiles.

Products awarded the Ecolabel can be marketed throughout the European Union and the European Economic Area countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). They carry the flower logo which helps manufacturers, retailers and service providers gain recognition for good standards, while helping purchasers to make reliable choices.

Ecolabel criteria are not based on one single factor, but on studies which analyse the impact of the product or service on the environment throughout its life-cycle, starting from raw material extraction in the pre-production stage, through to production, distribution and disposal.

They are constantly updated (normally every three years) to keep up with technological development. The current criteria for textiles will be revised in 2013 through a multi-stakeholder process.

Governance

The EU Ecolabel is a multi-stakeholder scheme managed by the European Commission at the EU level, and together with independent and impartial organisations called Competent Bodies, it is responsible for implementing the EU Eco-label scheme at national level.

The criteria development and revision can be initiated and lead by the Commission, Member States, Competent Bodies and other stakeholders through multi-stakeholder working groups.

The European Union Ecolabelling Board (EUEB), made up of the Competent Bodies from each Member State and all interested parties (such as industry representatives, environmental protection groups and consumer organisations) contributes to the development and revision of the EU Eco-label criteria and to any review of the implementation of the EU Eco-label scheme.

Scope

The EU Ecolabel can be awarded by the following textiles products:

  1. textile clothing and accessories: clothing and accessories (such as handkerchiefs, scarves, bags, shopping bags, rucksacks, belts etc.) consisting of at least 90 % by weight of textile fibres;
  2. interior textiles: textile products for interior use consisting of at least 90% by weight of textile fibres. Mats and rugs are included. Wall to wall floor coverings and wall coverings are excluded;
  3. fibres, yarn and fabric (including durable non-woven) intended for use in textile clothing and accessories or interior textiles. For ‘textile clothing and accessories’ and for ‘interior textiles’: down, feathers, membranes and coatings need not be taken into account in the calculation of the percentage of textile fibres.
Market Acceptance

The EU Ecolabel can be awarded to products coming from all over the world and placed on the European market. More than 1400 textile products that have been awarded the EU Eco-label are currently available, of which more than 700 are from the UK, more than 450 from Italy and more than 64 from Denmark.

A new catalogue with all EU Ecolabelled products is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel

Criteria

With the objective of addressing the main environmental impacts, EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles aim in particular at promoting the reduction of water pollution related to the key processes throughout the textile manufacturing chain, including fibre production, spinning, weaving, knitting, bleaching, dyeing and finishing.

The EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel/ecolabelled_products/categories/textiles_en.htm

They are divided into three main categories concerning textile fibres, processes and chemicals, and fitness for use.

Fibre-specific criteria are set for acrylic, cotton and other natural cellulosic seed fibres, elastane, flax and other bast fibres, greasy wool and other keratin fibres, man-made cellulose fibres, polyamide, polyester and polypropylene.

Other fibres for which no fibre specific criteria are set are also allowed, with the exception of mineral fibres, glass fibres, metal fibres, carbon fibres and other inorganic fibres.

Criteria promote the use of sustainable fibres, including organic cotton and recycled fibres.

With respect to the processing of textiles, the criteria aim to reduce the use of toxic dyes and agents and to promote adequate waste water treatment.

Energy Consumption

The EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles prescribes that applicants shall provide data on water and energy use for the manufacturing sites involved in wet processing.

Water Consumption

The EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles prescribes that applicants shall provide data on water and energy use for the manufacturing sites involved in wet processing.

Water Emissions

According with the EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles, wastewater discharged from wet-processing sites shall, when discharged after treatment (whether on-site or off-site), have a COD content of less than 20 g/kg expressed as an annual average.

If the effluent is treated on-site and discharged directly to water, it shall also have a pH between 6 and 9 (unless the pH of the receiving water is outside this range) and a temperature of less than 40 °C (unless the temperature of the receiving water is above this value).

Chemicals (Accepted/Restricted)

The EU Ecolabel may not be awarded to goods containing substances or preparation/mixtures meeting the criteria for classification as toxic, hazardous to the environment, carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction.

EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles moreover prohibit several substances such as:

  • lead based pigments
  • heavy metals and formaldehyde
  • azo dyes
  • No dyes classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction
  • No plasticisers or solvents

And restrict others such as:

  • zinc and copper
  • residues of certain pesticides
Consumer Safety

There are not specific criteria under this title. However, consumer safety is guaranteed by the criteria excluding and limiting hazardous chemicals.

Occupational Health and Safety

EU Ecolabel has no requirements on occupational health and safety.

Management System

Even if the EU Ecolabel has no explicit requirement for the implementation of a management system, application fees are reduced by 20% for applicants registered under the Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) and/or certified under the standard ISO 14001.

Record Keeping

In case of Waste water discharges from wet-processing, the EU Ecolabel requests for assessment and verification that the applicant shall provide detailed documentation and test reports, using ISO 6060, showing compliance with the water consumption criteria, together with a declaration of compliance.

After an Ecolabel has been granted, the applicant must keep all the files up to date. In cases where continued tests or measurements are required, the contract holder or his supplier is responsible for keeping a journal on the test results and the belonging documentation. This documentation does not need to be sent to the Competent Body but must be available at any time, if requested.

Environmental Policy

The EU Ecolabel does not prescribe any environmental policy, but encourages the applicants to be registered under EMAS or certified under ISO 14001.

Fitness for Use

Criteria address the dimensional changes during washing and drying, colour fastness to washing, perspiration, wet and dry rubbing and light.

Packaging

The applicant shall provide a sample of the product packaging showing the label.

Certification

On Site Audits or Desktop Review

Depending on the policy of the Competent Body (CB) the review process is complemented with site visits; the standard contract gives the CB access to the production premises at any time.

Unannounced Inspections/Other Inspections

Depending on the policy of the Competent Body the verification process can be complemented with unannounced visits.

Process

For the EU Ecolabel for Textiles, applications are treated and assessed by organizations – the ‘Competent Bodies (CB)’- in the EU member states. Applicants have to conclude a standard contract with the relevant Competent Body including all the provisions for using the flower logo.

Applications can be submitted using the application form, which is composed of a series of declarations (e.g. stating the use or non-use of certain substances) that must be signed by either the factory manager or the supplier of materials used in the production process (e.g. dyes, pigments, finishing products etc).

The application must be accompanied by relevant documentation, in any case safety data sheets of all the materials used in the production process (MSDS sheets preferably), test reports and supplementary documentation if necessary.

The assessment and decision on compliance is done on the basis of the documentation package provided. The CB may also ask a local accredited certification body to do the audit, at the expenses of the applicant.

Timing

The new regulation on the EU Ecolabel states that the Competent Body shall notify the applicant within two months of receipt of the application. The procedure can last between two months up to a year depending on the completeness of the dossier submitted.

Audit Team

According to the Article 9 of the EU Ecolabel Regulation, any company who wishes to use the EU Ecolabel shall apply to the Competent Bodies in accordance with the following rules:

  • Where a product originates in a single Member State, the application shall be presented to a competent body of that Member State;
  • Where a product originates in the same form in several Member States, the application may be presented to a competent body in one of those Member States;
  • Where a product originates outside the Community, the application shall be presented to a competent body in any of the Member States in which the product is to be or has been placed on the market.

A list of Competent Bodies can be found on: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel

Frequency

The criteria for the product group ‘Textile Products’, as well as the related assessment and verification requirements, shall be valid for four years.

Certification and License Fee

The cost of application and annual fees is indicated in the table below. For more information you may contact the Competent Body that will process your application.

Fees Min. Max. Reductions
Application fee covers the costs of processing the application € 200 € 1200 – Max.
€ 600 for SMEs and applicants from developing countries
– Max.
€ 350 for micro-enterprises
– 20%
reduction for companies registered under EMAS or certified under ISO 14001
Annual fee covers the use of the Ecolabel € 1500 Max. € 750 for SMEs and applicants from developing countries
Max.
€ 350 for micro-enterprises

Tools

A new interactive catalogue with all EU Ecolabeled products is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel

Manual/Procedures

A Logo Guideline and the Application Pack are available for companies willing to ecolabel their textiles.

Labels

According to the EU Ecolabel, the use of the label on products will be only awarded after verification that the product meets the environmental and performance criteria.

Applicability

The label can be used on the products and on their associated promotional material for the validity period of the EU Ecolabel license awarded for that product.

Fee

The fee is included in the certification cost.

The information appearing on the packaging of textiles bearing the Ecolabel shall contain the following text:

  • Encouraging the use of sustainable fibres,
  • Durable and high quality,
  • Hazardous substances restricted.

The EU Ecolabel registration/license number must appear on the product and it must be legible and clearly visible. It should take the following form: EU Ecolabel: XX/YY/ZZZ