All news on EU’s PFAS Restriction Proposal, updates on the timeline and current PFAS bans in the textile industry.
Good news on EU’s PFAS Restriction Proposal
The 13th of January 2023 was a historic day for advocates of a sustainable strategy for chemicals: Five European Member States submitted their PFAS restriction proposal to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Following years of discussions, the proposal sets out the pathway for the EU to ban over 10,000 persistent chemicals.
The restriction will have major impacts on the sport and outdoor industry because the ban requires the substances to be substituted in thousands of goods and thus eventually be removed entirely from the market.
In the future not only conventional applications such as outdoor clothing and footwear must be PTFE-free in all aspects of materials and DWR, but also most PPE applications will not been granted any exemptions.
Consequences for Sympatex brand partners
We are very pleased to inform you that Sympatex functional fabrics fully meet the requirements for the forthcoming PFAS ban and the recycling requirements of ESPR:
All Sympatex materials are 100% PFAS-free and our polyester based mono-material concept allows us to return all laminates to the closed textile loop at the end of their product life cycle without any problems. How does it work? We laminate our Sympatex polyester membrane with recycled polyester outer and recycled polyester lining materials and thus enable easy recyclability.
By using Sympatex fabrics you are a 100% compliant with upcoming regulations.
PFAS RESTRICTION PROCESS TIMELINE AND PARTICIPATION
On February, 7th 2023, the ECHA published the Member States’ restriction proposal on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) (a summary can be found here). ECHA’s Scientific Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) will now discuss in their meetings in March 2023 whether the submitted restriction proposal meets the legal requirements under REACH. After that, the Committees will start the scientific review of the proposal. A six-month public consultation started on 22nd of March 2023. An online information session will be organized on 5 April 2023 11.00-13.00 pm to explain the general restriction process and help those interested in participating in the consultation. (ECHA). No registration is required. The event will be streamed from EUchemicals YouTube channel
We encourage you to take the opportunity to join the information session and participate in this public consultation, as downstream users’ input is highly important.
Additionally, we invite you to a webinar on 05 May 2023 at 10.30-12.00 pm – hosted by Sympatex. We invited several experts to speak about the PFAS ban and actual next steps for your company.
Listen to Katy Stevens (EOG), Lisa Skedung (RI.SE), and Frida Hök (ChemSec) who will give you an overview of specific PFAS restriction consequences in the textile industry, PFAS alternatives, the concrete procedure of ECHA’s consultation phase and how you can actively engage.
You can register here.
According to the REACH Regulation, the RAC and SEAC opinions must be finalized within 12 months. Once these are available, the European Commission together with the EU Member States will decide on the final form of the restriction.
While we are not expecting any fundamental objections during this process, we will continue to accompany it in the background to ensure that no unnecessary loopholes will endanger its long overdue impact.
CONSEQUENCES OF PFAS BAN IN TEXTILE INDUSTRY
Bluesign and Oeko-Tex, as leading industry certifications, have issued bans as of this year. Also, the Restricted Substances List (RSL), an open-industry resource providing a reference of all regulations and laws that restrict or ban certain chemicals in finished apparel, footwear, accessories, and home textile products, includes restrictions on PFAS as a class of chemicals for the first time.
“With the prospect of new PFAS being restricted in the short- or mid-term, bluesign® has planned that from July 2023 all PFAS based chemicals will be phased out from the bluesign® FINDER and as of July 2024 all bluesign® APPROVED fabrics that are treated with PFAS formulations will be removed from the bluesign® GUIDE.” (bluesing®)
Beginning of 2023 Oeko-Tex has issued a general ban on the use of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in textiles, leather and footwear for the Standard 100, Leather Standard and Eco Passport certifications.
Personal Protective Equipment
While the legislation will be generic, there might be a few exemptions for critical PPE applications. However, according to a European court case from February 2021, alternatives do not require the identical performance level (threshold of zero), but the one necessary for the application. As such, any exemptions based on insufficient studies will be critically reviewed.
To support ECHA’s PFAS consultation, Sympatex is currently leading a study on PFAS alternatives for PPE, whose results we will deliver to ECHA and all other relevant stakeholders by the end of Q1 2023. In this study, numerous European tenders and their required standards are analyzed. The study will provide a detailed overview of the applications for which PFAS alternatives are readily available, for which they should be further tested, or which are currently excluded.
Mounting evidence is showing that PFAS have irreversible effects on humans and the environment. The widespread use of PFAS has led to global contamination of water, air, soils, wildlife, and human populations. Human exposure has been linked with serious health effects, including diabetes, infertility, and cancer.
Since many years, Sympatex is very concerned by the fact that textile industry contributes massively to the PFAS pollution. Especially functional garments and waterproof shoes often contribute through two different PFAS-containing components: The core membrane made of PTFE and the outer surface and trims treated with sidechain fluorinated polymers – a so-called Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finishing.
Whereas PFAS release from DWR surfaces can happen during product’s use phase, release from PTFE-containing membranes takes place during production and landfilling. As reported by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in 2021, collecting, incinerating, or recycling PTFE-containing products presents significant environmental challenges. EEA states that using PTFE risks to hamper circular potential and is not in line with the toxic-free ambitions of the EU Commission.
The new legislation on PFAS and recyclability is finally moving the textile industry in a more environmentally friendly direction. We are grateful to be part of this movement and are standing-by to support you with our 35 years of technical experience during this fundamental transition.
Let’s Re>close the loop. Together.
Your Sympatex Team