New EC report investigates: is there a need for additional labelling of textile and leather products? Published on: 24/09/2013, Last update: 25/09/2013
Today the European Commission adopted a report based on the results of three assessment studies carried out to investigate the need for possible new labelling requirements of textile and leather products as well as allergenic substances in textile finished products.
Building upon the findings of all three reports, the EC issued a report to the European Parliament and to the Council, which concludes that most labelling of textile products is adequate, while some new labelling of leather products might be needed.
According to the current regulation, textile products made available on the EU market must bear a label or marking indicating the fibre composition. The aim of the textile labelling study was to investigate the feasibility of providing consumers with additional information about country of origin, care, size, etc. using innovative technologies (e.g. electronic labelling, language independent symbols or codes). The study – which included a consumer survey with more than 3500 respondents from seven Member States and interviews with stakeholders – also reviewed existing labelling systems as well as EU and international standards. It concluded that the labelling systems in place are fit for purpose, self-explanatory and familiar to consumers; and that any possible new consumer-centred labelling requirements would need to bring clear added-value compared to already well-established systems.
The new study confirmed that “made-in” related information is of interest to consumers. In this respect, the Commission has recently adopted a proposal for a Regulation on consumer products safety, including provisions to introduce a EU-wide cross-sector system that takes into account the country of origin and other aspects of the traceability. (IP/13/111)
Currently, leather products, except footwear, are not subject to sector-specific EU-wide labelling requirements. The study on the labelling of leather, which also included a survey conducted among consumers and manufacturers, focused on the desirability and feasibility of possible new labelling requirements. The results have shown that the introduction of a label of authenticity of the leather is considered desirable. The Commission has, therefore, initiated an impact assessment which aims to estimate the costs and benefits of various policy options, including the legislative option in the field of labelling of authenticity of the leather.
The vast majority of textile products may be considered safe, although current scientific knowledge indicates that some resins used for the finishing of textile products can release substances that may cause allergic-contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. A study on the possible causal link between allergies and chemical substances or mixtures used in finished textile products indicates that 1 to 2 % of all contact allergies are due to textile products. Concentration levels in textiles that can generate allergic reactions have yet to be determined scientifically. EU legislation currently in force, e.g. on the use of chemical substances (REACH), cosmetics, biocides, pesticides, can provide a solution to address the risks posed by certain substances in finished textile products. Possible new actions should focus on: promoting research on alternative non-allergenic substances as well as removing uncertainties related to the substances that can be released from the finished textile products (and their concentration limit values). Regarding the labelling of allergenic substances, there are already well-established voluntary certification and labelling schemes related to the chemicals content.
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