Logo LIFE

LIFE-FLAREX - Mitigation of environmental impact caused by Flame Retardant textile finishing chemicals

LIFE16 ENV/ES/000374


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  
 

Contact details:

Contact person: Josep Casamada
Email: info@textil.cat



Project description:

Background

Flame retardants (FRs) are a group of anthropogenic products used at relatively high concentrations in many sectors, especially textiles. Many of them are considered toxic, persistent and/or bio-accumulative. Currently, the largest group of FRs on the market is brominated FRs (BFRs). Non-halogenated FRs are a possible alternative to BFRs, but knowledge of their cost effectiveness is lacking, along with their environmental impact and health risks.


Objectives

The main objective of the LIFE-FLAREX project was to promote the use of safer alternative flame retardants (FRs) in order to mitigate the environmental and health impacts caused by toxic compounds in FRs containing bromine, antimony trioxide or releasing formaldehyde in textile finishing products.

To achieve this aim, the project planned to apply the substitution principle to FRs chemicals listed on the REACH Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) and Candidate lists. It would identify potential substitute chemicals, both on the basis of the state of the art and by contacting R&D stakeholders.

The project planned totest potential alternatives in six pilots at pre-industrial and industrial textile mills. Their technical, environmental and economic performance would be evaluated in order to assess the feasibility of suitable chemicals for replacing conventional FRs in the home textile sector on an industrial scale.

The results and conclusions to be yielded by the project were expected to have a great potential for replication and be of high interest to the EU textile sector. The textile industry would be engaged through the organisation of local/regional professional workshops, and guidance would be produced on alternative FRs.


Results

The LIFE-FLAREX project contributed to the mitigation of the environmental and health impacts caused by hazardous FR compounds used in textile products: curtains, upholstery, mattress ticking and bedsheets made out of cotton, polyester or a mixture of both.

The main achievement was the technical demonstration at industrial level of alternative FRs, their risk, life cycle and skin penetration assessments. The technical conclusions highlight the existence of technically viable alternatives to halogens, antimony trioxide and formaldehyde releasing compounds in home textiles applications that are safe, environmentally friendly and cost effective.

The industrial sector is seeking a substitute for decabromodiphenyl ether, which has been banned in the EU since March 2019, and it is focusing efforts on bromine-based polymeric FRs that are considered as safer alternatives. The project decided to test them as transitional alternatives along with one non-toxic product. For some aspects of testing, non-disclosure agreements were required.

The FRs were applied to textiles on a laboratory and industrial scale. While not all of them were found to be suitable, the unsuccessful ones at least provided relevant data and offered indications for further research. Several alternatives (ammonium polyphosphate, guanidine phosphate and ammonium sulfamate) are very efficient for applications where no washing durability is required, like for mattress ticking. For curtains made of 100% polyester, alternatives were based on organophosphorus compounds that withstand washing cycles. However, those substances do not perform well on 100% polyester upholstered textiles. Expandable graphite was found to be a very effective FR for upholstery applications, although a partial loss of flexibility is a drawback. Wash durable FR alternatives that do not impact the textile handle are less widely available, especially for higher polyester content fabric (only two alternatives could be identified). The in-vitro toxicological potential measured was used in the risk assessment. These studies quantifiably showed that the assessed products currently used as FRs in textiles are harmful to human health and the environment. Moreover, the currently used alternatives were shown to be as dangerous as the banned ones. For each of the four applications of the project (curtains, upholstery, mattress ticking and bed linen), at least one alternative FR was found that meets the requirements to be suitable candidate for replacement.

The project attracted much attention from high-level stakeholders, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Commission (DG-Environment), the Joint Research Center (JRC) and the European Textile and Apparel Confederation (EURATEX). The results of the project will inform the updating of BREF for the textile industry, voluntary schemes such as ecolabels and green procurement.

At the end of the project, the textile sector was equipped to replace a certain amount of the currently used harmful fire retardants. However, it is not in the beneficiary's hands to make this transition and the Covid-19 pandemic has hampered progress. Replacement of harmful FRs has been much lower than initially foreseen.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Top


Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Industry-Production - Textiles - Clothing
Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Risk management - Industrial risks - Hazardous substances
Industry-Production - Chemicals


Keywords

chemical industry‚  textile industry‚  hazardous substance


Target EU Legislation

  • Industry and Product Policy
  • Directive 2010/75 - Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (24.11.201 ...
  • Chemicals & Hazardous substances
  • "Regulation 1907/2006 - Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REA ...
  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


Top


Beneficiaries:

Coordinator ASSOCIACI AGRUPACI DEMPRESES INNOVADORES TXTILS
Type of organisation Professional organisation
Description Agrupació d'Empreses Innovadores Tèxtils (AEI TEXTIL) is a non-profit association that aims to promote R&D among its members, which are mainly SMEs related directly or indirectly to the technical textiles sector in Catalonia.
Partners ASOCIACION DE EMPRESARIOS TEXTILES DE LA COMUNIDAD VALENCIANA, Spain AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS, Spain Città Studi S.p.A., Italy CLUTEX – klastr technické textilie, Czech Republic CENTEXBEL: CENTRE SCIENTIFIQUE & TECHNIQUE DE L'INDUSTRIE TEXTILE BELGE, Belgium Acondicionamiento Tarrasense, Spain

Top




Project reference LIFE16 ENV/ES/000374
Duration 01-JUL-2017 to 30-JUN -2020
Total budget 1,163,879.00 €
EU contribution 697,515.00 €
Project location Associated Czech (CZ)(Czech Cesko) Cataluña(España) Comunidad Valenciana(España) Piemonte(Italia)

Top


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Flame retardant Green procurement guide for the t ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Spanish version)
Video link LIFE Flarex project (2') (https://youtu.be/o2e877GgdcY)

Top

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version