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The Blue Angel standard emphasises to the manufacturer the reduction and optimisation of resources, including freshwater, which should be used in a responsible way.
In the textile process, the waste water requirements for the direct discharge of waste water into running water must conform to specific values relating to oxygen demands, chemical content and toxicity. Additionally, the pH-value of the effluent must be between the parameters of 6 and 9 (unless the pH of the receiving water is outside this range). The temperature has to be less than 40°C (unless the temperature of the receiving water is outside this range).
These requirements do not apply if the applicant can attest that the discharge of their waste water into a community waste water treatment plant has been authorised by the state authority.
The community waste water treatment plant needs to fulfill the restriction requirements which are detailed in the communal waste water regulation report (91/271/EWG) of May, 21st 1991, by the community council.
Additionally there are specific requirement for the biodegradability of textile auxiliaries, finishing agents and auxiliaries for fibres and yarns.
The Blue Angel standard regulates the use of chemicals during different processing states regarding their environmental impact on air and water, as well as their impact on human health and safety. Generally, it bans process chemicals that are toxic, carcinogenic, genetically harmful or toxic for reproduction, toxic to aquatic organisms, or cause ozone depletion based on the classification of GHS regulation (Globally Harmonized System of classification and of labeling of chemicals: EG/1272/2008).
Also banned are process chemicals that are listed as Substances of Very High Concern according to the candidate list of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals: EG 1907/2006) chemical regulation.
The Blue Angel sets no specific requirements on chemical management. Nevertheless, to prove the fulfillment of the requirements for waste water treatment and on prohibited substances, a reasonable chemical management system is necessary.
In addition to the prohibition of certain process chemicals, the Blue Angel for textiles sets criteria for specific product testing to minimise the danger of residues in the final product, e.g. formaldehyde, extractable heavy metals, hazardous colorants, phthalates and plasticisers, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), chlorophenols, organotin compounds, chlorinated benzenes and toluenes or dimethylformamide.
The Blue Angel standard has precise requirements for air emissions
Furthermore, each raw material fiber has some specific restrictions
The Blue Angel standard bans process chemicals that are toxic, carcinogenic, genetically harmful or toxic for reproduction. It also excludes certain harmful substances during the manufacturing process, e.g. aromatic diisocyanates during the polymerisation and spinning process of synthetic fibres, the use of aromatic and halogenated solvents, biocides or flame retardants.
The Blue Angel standard’s basic principles and rights in relation to working conditions are equal to the prevailing labor norms of the International Labor Organisation (ILO). In order to receive a Blue Angel eco-labeling certification, there must be a guarantee that the entire supply chain has, at a minimum, complied with ILO standards:
For the packaging of Blue Angel certificated products, no halogen-containing polymers are allowed. A picture of a sample of the packaging has to be handed in to the RAL gGmbH for inspection.
There are limitations for dimensional changes during washing and drying, and requirements regarding colour fastness to washing, rubbing and perspiration.
Natural fibres have to be of organic origin. Different requirements exist for synthetic fibres depending on the specific type of fibre.
Detailed information can be found in the RAL-documentation (currently only in German, soon also in English) here or by getting in contact with the RAL gGmbH team.