Several directives related to the environment directly affect the European textile and clothing industry, such as those relating to waste management or to industrial emissions.
One piece of environmental legislation of relevance for the textile sector is the Directive 201/75/EU on Industrial emissions (Integrated pollution prevention and control (IED)). This Directive aims at minimising harmful industrial emissions throughout the European Union, in particular through the application of best available techniques.
Plants for the pre-treatment (operations such as washing, bleaching, mercerisation) or dyeing of fibres or textiles where the treatment capacity exceeds 10 tonnes per day are subject to the IED Directive, i.e. are required to obtain an authorisation (environmental permit) to operate. According to the Directive, permit conditions must be based on Best Available Techniques (BAT). The Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for the Textiles Industry was adopted in 2003. This document provides general information on the textile sector and on the industrial processes used within the textile sector (in particular fibre preparation, pre-treatment, dying printing and finishing). It provides data and information concerning emission and consumption levels and describes the emission reduction and other techniques that are considered to be most relevant for determining BAT and BAT-based permit conditions.
Emission Trading System (ETS)
Another piece of legislation which might have an impact on the textile sector is the legislation relating to the European Emission Trading System. Directive 2009/29/EC [1 MB] amends Directive 2003/87/EC [162 KB] so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the Community. Annex I of the Directive defines the categories of activities to which this Directive applies. In this framework, textile companies can be impacted by the ETS Directive if they have combustion installations with a total rated thermal input exceeding 20MW. This is the case of some big textile
The Directive stipulates that installations in sectors or subsectors which are exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage shall be allocated allowances free of charge (on basis of a benchmark). The Directive defines the conditions for a sector to "be deemed to be exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage" and sets that the Commission shall adopt the list of sectors at risk by the end of 2009.
Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
The sector will also be affected by the new REACH Regulation on chemicals, being a downstream user of a wide variety of chemical preparations. The sector faces a risk related to the vulnerability of low volume chemicals of critical importance to textile production and products, such as potentially significant reformulation costs, withdrawal from the market and time-to-market problems. However, REACH can also bring business benefits by increasing innovation in leather chemicals.
Other directives with relevance for the sector
Whenever Biocidal products are added to textile products to confer them with specific properties (e.g. repeal fleas, mites and mosquitoes or avoid allergens) the provisions of the Biocides Directive have to be complied with.
As regards, voluntary approaches, the European Ecolabel for Textile products exists since 1999.