Consumers will no longer risk inadvertently buying textiles that contain real fur or leather, thanks to new textile labeling rules approved by the European Parliament.
The new rules should also ensure that new fibers and innovative products reach the market faster. The Commission will be asked for an assessment report, by 2013, on a possible origin labeling scheme, which may be accompanied by a legislative proposal.
On Wednesday MEP approved, by a show of hands, a second-reading agreement struck by Parliament and the Council just before Easter on a new regulation on textile labeling.
Any use of animal-derived materials will have to be clearly stated on textile product labels. Fur is often used to trim relatively inexpensive garments and it is often hard for consumers to distinguish between real fur and good quality fake fur.
The European Parliament has ensured that textiles containing such products must be labeled contains non-textile parts of animal origin to enable consumers to identify them. Allergy sufferers, for whom fur is a potential health hazard, will be among the beneficiaries.
The Commission is also asked to carry out a study, by 30 September 2013, on hazardous substances to assess whether there is a causal link between allergic reactions and chemical substances (e.g. colorings, biocides or nano-particles), used in textile products.
The Council also agreed to ask the Commission to present a study, also by 30 September 2013, on the feasibility of an origin labeling scheme to give consumers accurate information on the country of origin and additional information ensuring full traceability of textile products. This assessment report may be accompanied by a legislative proposal.
The Commission's report should also assess the feasibility of harmonizing care labeling requirements (currently voluntary), an EU-wide uniform size labeling system for clothes and the indication of allergenic substances.
The European Parliament also stresses the need to assess how new technologies, such as micro-chips or radio-frequency identification (RFID), could in future be used instead of traditional labels to convey information to consumers.
After approval by Parliament, the new textile labeling rules must still be formally signed by the Member States. The new regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal.
However, for the new labeling requirements, such as the rules on labeling of fur parts, there will be a 2 ½ year transition period to allow the industry time to adapt.