AFIRM: Frequently Asked Questions.

Topics

1. AFIRM

2. Restricted substances – general

3. Chemical Legislation – REACH

4. OEKO-TEX

5. Testing

6. Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

7. Compliance & Assurance

8. Substitutes

9. Chemical Waste Disposal

10. Increased Cost

11. Failures

Individual substances:

12. Amines

13. APEO & NPEO

14. Benzotriazole (MBT)

15. Chloro Organic Carriers

16. Chrome VI

17. Flame Retardants

AFIRM

Q: Will other brands join AFIRM?
A: Other brands are welcome to apply for membership in AFIRM.

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RESTRICTED SUBSTANCES – GENERAL

Q: Please give details on restricted substances
A: Since different brands have different restricted substances lists, it would be difficult to list all restricted substances. Listed below are those that are commonly found in RSLs:

  1. Carcinogenic aromatic amines (related to azo dyes, 22-24 banned amines depends on the brand’s preference)
  2. Allergenic disperse dyes
  3. Heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel etc…)
  4. Organotins (e.g. MBT, TBT, TPhT etc…)
  5. Chlorinated aromatics (chlorinated organic carriers, such as chlorinated benzenes and chlorinated toluenes)
  6. Flame retardants (e.g. PBBs, pentaBDE, OctaBDE etc.)
  7. Formaldehyde
  8. Phthalates (e.g. DEHP, DINP etc.)
  9. Auxiliary chemicals such as PFOS etc.

Remarks: the list above only includes some of the restricted substances that could be found in RSL. It is recommended that the supplier check with the corresponding brand for the details.

Q: What sort of substance restrictions imposed by major buyers in USA and Europe are especially for children’s apparel?
A: Children are at greater risk due to their developing organs, lower body weight, and the accumulative nature of some chemicals.

  • Thus all RSL chemicals are important for children’s wear, and some limits are lower for children (e.g., formaldehyde).
  • Of particular concern:
    • in EU: phthalates (plasticizer in PVC)
    • in US: lead (metal trim, surface coatings, pigments)

Q: The lists of RSL materials are constantly changing due to factors such as our continued understanding of materials and their effect on the environment. With the huge list of materials, especially organic compounds, that exist currently, and that can be effectively compounded in the future, how do responsible governing bodies decide which materials to study for long term impact on health and environment?
A: To the best of our knowledge, governing bodies take into account information from health professionals, reputable scientific organizations and reputable pressure groups. We recommend that this question be directed to the governing bodies.

Q: We would like specific information for the intimate apparel field.
A: Regardless of the type of apparel item, each product must comply with the buyers’ chemical restrictions. We appreciate this question and will endeavor to provide information regarding specific product classes during future RSL seminars.

Q: What aboutToluene, Cyclohexanone, DMF, Methalrylic Acid, MEK, Phenol?
A: Some AFIRM members’ RSLs relate solely to chemicals found on finished products. However many global brands have wider policies regarding the use of chemicals in manufacturing and the health and safety of workers.

Q: Does the RSL include any performance testing?
A: Generally The RSL does not have any performance testing requirements. You will need to satisfy a brand’s quality and performance expectations in addition to RSL requirements.

Q: If I comply with RSL requirements is my product guaranteed to be OK for the particular brand?
A: Very highly likely – but there are some items that do not appear on an RSL (e.g., radioactive substances, explosives). Please remember that many companies require vendors to sign agreements that make vendors responsible for any applicable legal or safety requirements that may not have been specifically listed in the company’s manuals.

Q: Will different brands have different RSL requirements for sewing threads?
A: Each company’s RSL also applies to sewing thread.

Q: Has AFIRM ever conducted any survey about the possibility of the formation of an RSL chemical via production process/supply chain apart from intrinsic RSL chemical? (If done, example? If not, any plan?)
A: AFIRM companies are aware that a few restricted chemicals may not be intentionally added along the supply chain but are present as a by-product, through reaction between other chemicals, or as a contaminant. No systematic survey has been done but it is generally known which chemicals have a high risk of occurring as reaction products, (e.g., formaldehyde, PFOA) and how to control them. If contamination is the cause (lead in coatings may sometimes be traceable to contamination), usually the sources can be controlled with care by the factory. This is why a supplier’s own baseline testing, followed by root cause analysis if the unexpected is found, is a “best practice.”

Q: How do you keep the packaging (boxes and plastic bags) from contaminating the final product during shipment?
A: Packaging materials should comply with both brand RSLs and also global regulation as applicable. This should minimize any contamination of the final product by contact with packaging materials.

Q: When you are going to add a new restricted substance to the RSL, would you first consult or discuss with the dyestuff and auxiliary suppliers before implementation? We as the chemical suppliers know that when a new RSL has been launched, products may not satisfy the new RSL. Therefore, it takes time to reformulate products or it may be impossible to change the product in a short period of time.
A: This depends on the nature of the change. Most of the RSL lists are generated based on a best practice approach. If a new requirement/change is based on a new legal regulation, immediate action may be necessary to meet the legal timeline, since brands are naturally expected to deliver legally compliant products. Suppliers are also expected to pro-actively secure legal compliance of their products on their own. With good co-operation, other requirements based on consumer protection can be worked out and communicated together with strategic suppliers, so implementation timelines should not be a problem.

Q: Is A-01 (adidas RSL) identical to AFIRM RSL Guidance?
A: No. The AFIRM RSL Guidance can be found at: http://afirm-group.com/PDF/AFIRMGuidance24August2012.pdf and the adidas A-01 RSL may be found here: http://www.adidas-group.com/en/sustainability/assets/Guidelines/A01_Aug_2012.pdf

Q: Will AFIRM companies stop using their own lists and only use the AFIRM RSL Guidance?
A: At this time (May 2013), no AFIRM company has stopped using its own list to use the AFIRM RSL Guidance. AFIRM) created the Restricted Substance (RSL) Guidance to assist and guide supply-chain participants seeking to increase product quality and safety, or reduce their environmental impact, by limiting the use of certain substances (“AFIRM RSL Guidance”). The AFIRM RSL Guidance constitutes information from AFIRM only, and does not represent any individual AFIRM member.

Q: Why don’t all brands use the same standard and have the same RSL requirements?
A: Although AFIRM companies strive to align requirements and 80 to 90% of the chemical restrictions are the same among all AFIRM companies, a harmonized global RSL does not presently exist primarily because of different products/types/groups (e.g., footwear, cosmetics, food contacts, toys, apparel and different types of apparel such as high fashion, sportswear); different ways of addressing different chemicals; distribution channels; individual company RSLs that are tailored to the brand’s specific market; and some countries have different mandated test methods (if a brand does not sell product in a certain country, that country’s chemical restriction or test method is irrelevant.)

Q: What controls are on trim suppliers (zippers, snaps, leather patches)?
A: All trim suppliers must follow the RSL also. First, communicate the RSL and make sure the suppliers understand it. Second, it depends upon the material – see the AFIRM Toolkit, page 2 for risks by material, e.g., metal (lead, nickel if skin contact; plastic – phthalates, BPA, APEO, PAH)

Q: Fluorescent colors are not stable and sometimes result in RSL failures. How can we prevent this, or confirm that the colors will not fail. Are there checks we can perform during the process?
A: Fluorescent dye can be found in various dying catalogs including disperse, acid, solvent, basic dye, etc. There is a large range of chemicals that could be involved and cause RSL issues. It is difficult to jump into a simple conclusion. From the testing data, azo dye and pigment (with formaldehyde as crosslink agent) are still high risk concerns. The high level suggestion is:
(1) Check the MSDS (or SDS) to screen what chemicals have been involved with this “fluorescent dye” for RSL testing (e.g., formaldehyde, azo dye).
(2) Make mock-up samples for RSL testing to validate the material before production.

NOTE: This is just for RSL compliance.

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REACH

Q: Please define “intended to be released” under REACH.
A: There is much discussion and disagreement about the definition of “intended release” under REACH. The Draft Guidance Document on Requirements for Substances in Articles (RIP 3.8) says that intended releases are “deliberately planned and have a specific function for the article.” In other words, if the release did not happen, then that function of the article would not be fulfilled. An example provided is a pencil eraser with an embedded fragrance that is released to provide a pleasant scent.

A release is not “intended” if it occurs during use (such as cleaning or wear and tear) AND the released substances “do not contribute to the function of the article.” Also, a release is not intended if it is the result of abuse or an accident. A release of chemicals formed during chemical reactions is also not considered “intended,” for example if the product catches fire.

(See RIP 3.8, Appendix 1.)

Q: Information is needed on chemical restrictions in EU from 2006.
A: Current legal restrictions on chemicals in the EU can be found in a very long Directive, 76/769, including its amendments, that is related to the marketing and use of dangerous substances. However, a much easier approach, at least for apparel and footwear products, is to consult the RSLs of AFIRM companies doing business in the EU. By necessity, legal requirements must be covered in these RSLs.

It is also important to know that the EU is on the verge of sweeping change in the regulation of both chemical raw materials and chemicals in products manufactured or imported in the EU. A new Directive known as REACH will impact both products that intentionally release chemicals and products that contain certain concentrations of particularly dangerous chemicals. The final shape of the legislation will likely be worked out at the end of 2006. For details, please refer to the website:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/reach/index_en.htm

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 OEKO-TEX

Q: How do you integrate OEKO-TEX in this programme?
A: TheOeko-Tex 100 standard is highly comparable with RSLs of the AFIRM group members. Over 80% of Oeko-Tex content mirrors these RSLs, but there are some specific differences. Hence the Oeko-Tex standard is not a substitute for a company’s RSL, which is what your individual customer specifically requires.

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TESTING

Q: Awareness of RSLs is present, but annual laboratory testing is expensive for “small suppliers”. Can we do anything to reduce these lab fees?

A: Different laboratories offer different testing prices for different tests. Please contact the brand-recommended testing laboratory for details. AFIRM has no discussions about or influence over laboratory testing costs.

Q: For material suppliers, can they test the material and send the same test report to different buyers such as Nike, Levi’s and H&M?
A: If the material to be provided to different buyers is the same, and if the restricted substance requirements, test methods and limits are the same (same RSL), then the same test report may be shared with different buyers.

Q: Do AFIRM brands typically accept the same test report from a single lab?
A: No. While many of the AFIRM companies use the same contract labs, there is no standard report format that is accepted by all member companies. Brands require their own unique identifying information on their reports and have individualized format preferences. In addition, any product testing requested by a brand must be performed on that brand’s finished product.

Q: If the materials passed RSL testing, should the final product to be tested again?
A: This depends on the brand’s policy. Materials used in production may be exposed to different chemical treatments or manufacturing processes. Some brands may ask for finished product testing.

Q: Can suppliers rely on RSL test results of raw chemicals from accredited labs?
A: RSLs cover chemical substances found in/on products, not in the raw chemicals themselves. However, chemical companies should verify to their customers the presence or absence of substances in their chemicals for informational purposes. One way is to test chemical products and share the results with their customers.

Q: Normally, what is the most reasonable/practical sampling percentage in general or that you recommend for RSL testing?
A: Sampling products for testing is not an easy decision. Some AFIRM members specify exactly how many samples should be tested per order. Other AFIRM members let their suppliers make this decision. However, the objective is for the product manufacturer and the buyer to have confidence that residual chemicals on products comply with all chemical restrictions. Testing when you are not confident is necessary.

Q: If a supplier has test equipment capable of matching the RSL requirements for their product range, can they use it in place of sending samples to an approved lab?
A: AFIRM brands typically publish their own lists of approved 3rd party laboratories for testing to their specific program requirements. AFIRM brands with approved 3rd party laboratories only accept test results from these labs. Suppliers are encouraged to perform their own self-reference testing on the premises or at any laboratory of their choice, but these test results will not be accepted in place of reports from approved 3rdparty labs.

Q: Clearly all elements of the supply chain have a responsibility to control restricted substances, but who tests? If a sample is tested in the supply chain, does it mean that further down the chain there is no need to test? Where does due diligence stop?
A: The timing of testing depends on the customer and the product type. Any point in the supply chain has a possibility to cause a product to fail. In many cases the largest chemical impact is at the raw material (i.e. fabric, trims) stage; testing at this stage can give you an indication of compliance prior to assembling the finished product and allow you to test a material once if it is used on several finished products. However, in order to guarantee compliance of a garment-treated or embellished product, it may be necessary to test at the finished product stage. Any chemical treatment to a consumer product could introduce restricted substances, so it is important to purchase and use only substances which are known to be free of substances restricted by brand RSL.

Q: Do we test each of the component inks or test a blended ink? Our concern is that each separate component ink may be RSL compliant, but when blended together to make an ink for screen printing it might exceed the RSL limit.
A: When various inks that all comply with the RSL limits individually are combined into a design on textiles, the relative amount of any restricted analyte in the ink will remain the same based on the volume or weight of ink applied. There should not be any concern that an ink that passes RSL on its own will then fail the RSL when combined with other compliant inks in a graphic design. This is provided that the screen print facility has process control measures in place to prevent any contamination of the inks or screen prints in the production process.

There are rare circumstances where a mixture of two or more dyes may cause an RSL failure due to chemical reactions between the ingredients. Chemical suppliers can assist in preparing dye formulations to avoid this from happening

Q: When should heat transfer materials be tested?
A: Heat transfers should ordinarily be tested by the vendor / supplier before application. Testing of the completed heat transfer should be conducted if restricted substances are showing up in the completed heat transfer that were not contained in the original materials. It is possible that the transfer process can create restricted substances from chemical reactions between the transfer materials.

Q: Can we use the RSL test results on our chemicals from accredited labs for every brand?
A: RSLs cover chemical substances found in/on products, not chemicals. However, chemical companies should verify to their customers the presence or absence of certain substances. One way is to test chemical products and share the results with customers.

Q: Can we give the same test report to all brands?
A: No. While many of the AFIRM companies use the same contract labs, there is no standard report format that is accepted by all member companies. In addition, any product testing requested by a brand must be performed on that brand’s product.

Q: Normally, what is the most reasonable/practical sampling percent in general or that you recommend for RSL chemical testing?
A: Sampling products for testing is not an easy decision. Some AFIRM members specify exactly how many samples should be tested per order. Other AFIRM members let their suppliers make this decision. However, the objective is for the product manufacturer and the buyer to have confidence that residual chemicals on products comply with all chemical restrictions. Testing when you are not confident is necessary. A good rule of thumb is to test different materials of different colors (i.e. a dark color polyester for restricted disperse dyes and a dark color cotton for restricted azo dye amines).

Q: How do AFIRM companies ensure that testing institutes are testing according to the same procedures, processes & sampling, etc.?
A: Please refer to the AFIRM Toolkit, page 13.

Q: Must all mills ship goods with nominated laboratory test reports?
A: Depends upon the brand’s RSL requirements.

Q: How does AFIRM ensure that ALL AFIRM testing institutes are testing the samples in the exact same manner, the same process and procedures, so that the results will be consistent within an acceptable range?
A: AFIRM is an RSL management working group, therefore does not select laboratories nor conduct product testing. Please see brand-specific RSLs for preferred laboratories and policy and/ or testing program information.

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MATERIALS SAFETY DATA SHEETS (MSDS)

Q: If we buy some material from a nominated supplier, where they can’t provide or they don’t have proper MSDS’ from original/raw material sourcing, should we (manufacturer of finished product) continue to buy from them?
A: Nominated or not you should always make sure that your subcontractors use raw materials for which they can provide MSDS and/or RSL compliance declaration. Push them until they do, or change subcontractor.

Q: How does one control various chemical companies even though they supply MSDS and certifications – are they reliable at all?
A: Material Safety Data Sheets do not typically provide the type of information needed to know if the end product will meet specific chemical restrictions. However, MSDS’s may provide some clues. A first step must always be a good relationship with your chemical suppliers. This relationship shall include providing your buyers’ restricted substances lists to the chemical supplier for them to provide you information regarding the potential presence of a restricted substance. If a restricted substance is part of the chemical formulation, then a garment manufacturer (mill, laundry, etc.) must either use the chemical in a way wherein they are confident any restricted substance does not exceed the limitation of a RSL, or test the product.

Q: If the supplier did not provide the correct MSDS, what is to be done when there is an RSL failure?
A: The AFIRM Supplier RSL Implementation Toolkit includes this information on page 3 “Note: MSDS May not reflect the presence of restricted substances. Supplier should reconfirm with the chemical supplier by sending them the brand’s RSL.” Also, if the supplier knows that the MSDS is incorrect, it is essential that the correct MSDS be secured from the chemical provider.

Q: Has AFIRM considered standardizing the MSDS format across brands and developing a standard labeling protocol? This can easily be done by asking chemical suppliers to follow the UN protocol as many do not follow this
A: AFIRM will not develop a standardized MSDS format or standard labeling protocol. The United Nations, in 2003, adopted the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The UN has published a detailed guide on the GHS, which is posted in a user-friendly format on the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website. To see GHS implementation internationally, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) maintains a document summarizing the status of GHS implementation across 67 countries. The United States, US Department of Labor – on 26 March 2012 adopted the GHS into its Hazard Communication Standard, which became effective in July, 2012. Both rules include requirements for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). The name has been changed from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) to SDS.

The standards specifically set forth requirements and a format for SDSs. In the U.S., by 1 June 2015, all manufacturers, distributors and importers of chemicals must have all SDSs meeting the format requirements. By 1 June 2015, all labels will be required to have appropriate pictograms, a signal word, hazard statements and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification.

Q: Is the MSDS format appropriate for highlighting potential RSL failures? What can be done to improve the situation?
A: Regardless of whether the UN-adopted and US-implemented Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format is appropriate for highlighting potential RSL failures, since it is a “Globally Harmonized” system, it will be the system that is used, and AFIRM will not create a new SDS format.
Good dye and chemical companies will tell their clients if their formulations comply with a specific RSL.

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COMPLIANCE & ASSURANCE

Q: How are brands verifying supplier compliance with their RSL list?
A: In a variety of ways – supplier education and training is a priority for many companies. Some companies focus on control and monitoring of finish formulas, including working closely with chemical suppliers and the factories. Testing at independent outside laboratories plays a role in most enforcement programs, but it can vary from requiring vendors to 1) test every style; 2) selectively test based on past performance; 3) randomly test; or 4) no testing on their own but product will be subject to auditing and testing by the brand.

Note that virtually all companies have contractual agreements with vendors that require products comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Q: Are you auditing to ensure environmental regulatory compliance of your suppliers? In absence of adequate local laws, do you specify best management practices?
A: Generally yes and most AFIRM companies have minimum requirements to address some environmental issues where there are no local laws.

Q: How do you certify compliance with California Prop 65?
A: Where the CA Prop 65 limit to avoid product warnings is established for a chemical, companies can monitor compliance in the same way they do with other legally regulated chemicals (see question 5).

Prop 65 is unusual in that a chemical may be listed without a safe exposure limit being set. Even when an exposure limit is set, such as 0.5 micrograms per day for lead, how that relates to the chemical’s total content in a product must be determined. This means it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to know the listed chemicals in their products, to determine whether consumers are exposed to them and at what levels, and to inform the retailer/distributor. Risk assessment modelling may be needed to help make these determinations.

Note that the manufacturer and retailer can both be sued in California for violating Prop 65, based merely on a showing that chemical is present in the product. It will then be up to the manufacturer and retailer to prove that there is no exposure requiring a warning to consumers.

Q: What would be the most effective way to audit or evaluate the implementation of RSL policies and procedures of an entity; able to do this on a short factory visit of half day?
A: Request the factory to set up their RSL management plan (please refer to the AFIRM Toolkit, page 17, followed by the audit checklist:

1. Review their RSL Project Team; have they assigned roles and responsibilities?
2. Review RSL Strategy for Components and Suppliers.
3. Review the sample testing program.
4. Have high risk materials/colors been identified?
5. Has a solid upstream vendor management program been established and implemented to ensure RSL compliance?
6. Review the RSL training program.
7. Review the Corrective Action program.
8. Review the RSL Data Management program and ensure setting up the score card for evaluation with the management team.
9. Schedule a review meeting with factory GM to review the scorecard.

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SUBSTITUTES

Q: What are the best substitutes to remove stains in place of white petrol?
A: It highly depends on what kind of stain you want to remove. All organic solvents are potentially harmful and ventilation and personal protective equipment are essential in all stain removing activities. Chlorinated and aromatic solvents are generally more harmful than other solvents. Your buyer might have more detailed information on specific alternatives.

Best practice is to avoid stains by keeping your factory clean and tidy.

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CHEMICAL WASTE DISPOSAL

Q: How should we dispose of chemical waste?
A: Suppliers must implement policies and procedures for waste management to minimize risk to human health and the environment. Specifically, the supplier is responsible for ensuring that waste is disposed of using responsible environmental practices utilizing best available treatment technology. To achieve this practice, the supplier must utilize licensed/permitted (subject to approval) waste transporters and disposal facilities.

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INCREASED COST

Q: If the factory reaches the goal of the RSL but the cost will be a little bit higher than the general product, will retailer, brand, or company share the cost of the increase? This is an important issue for the factory and manufacturer, because to have better quality they need to pay and buy the good raw materials from the supplier! Also, a similar question: Are the brands prepared to pay a premium if the supplier has to use products from “eco-friendly” international chemical suppliers instead of local suppliers?
A: The shared aim of all AFIRM members is to achieve total compliance with their individual (but similar) chemical restrictions. Providing that the “local chemical suppliers” can achieve compliance, then generally speaking there should be no problem. A non-complying chemical cannot be compared with a chemical that meets the required standard – therefore it is not a question of “paying a premium” because non-compliance is simply not an option.

Q: Failure may be due to cost savings, do you agree?
A: Yes, trying to save cost can result in products with undesirable levels of restricted substances. This can happen when factories buy raw materials and chemicals from unreliable supply houses that do not know or will not reveal what is in them. It also happens when neither the supplier nor the buyer is willing to test raw materials and/or product.

Taking short cuts in this manner to offer the lowest cost product carries a significant risk of much higher enforcement costs downstream. It is the responsibility of suppliers and brands alike to seek cost-effective means of assuring there is no exposure to toxic chemicals. Working together is part of the reason for an organization like AFIRM.

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FAILURES

Q: Even though a product might comply with RSLs, consumers may use bad detergent or bleach – that is not our fault, right? Who should be blamed?
A: Products manufactured for or bought by AFIRM companies must arrive at retail in a state that complies with individual company RSL requirements. The goal of AFIRM company RSLs is to ensure that the product does not contain restricted substances in excess of the specified RSL. A company or manufacturer cannot expect to control the type of detergent or other preparation a consumer may use to care for their products.

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AMINES

Q: In general, certain black reactive dyes have minimum traces of amine (P-Chloroaniline). Do all dyes have to have zero detection of this amine?
A: Azo dyes may be manufactured using amino starting materials. Amines may be found in the end product due to either (a) residual unreacted traces of the starting chemical, or (b) reductive cleavage of the azo dye itself. In either case, minimal traces of the amine would be acceptable provided the trace concentration is below that of the RSL (typically 20 or 30 ppm).

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APEO & NPEO

Q: How do we know which type of material or manufacturing process has a chance of containing APEO?
A: Basically APEO’s are expected to be found in:

  • Cleaning agents
  • Emulsifier of fats and waxes
  • Agents in textile and leather processing
  • Formulas of biocides and pesticides
  • Cements and glues
  • Carton and paper processing
  • Cosmetics
  • Metal processing

Knowledge about possible APEO content is achievable via a careful and comprehensive database of MSDS’, chemical supplier declarations and test reports. In case of doubt, check with the chemical supplier first.

All processes can contain APEO, so dye mills and processors must check all dyes and chemical auxiliaries with their chemical suppliers. Examples of high-risk materials are leather, silk and cotton.

Q: Are there restrictions about deliveries of goods to Europe, which have been treated with APEO containing auxiliaries in greater China?
A: There is legislation in Europe banning the use of formulations containing greater than 0.1% of NPEO. There is no legislation regarding the sale of textiles or leather containing greater than 0.1% of NPEO. It would be therefore legal to treat footwear and apparel products with APEOs in certain areas of the world and sell them in Europe. Nevertheless, individual processors must understand the laws that operate in the region where they produce and sell, and as APEOs are restricted by some AFIRM members’ RSLs, failure to meet those requirements may result in product rejection.

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BENZOTRIAZOLE (MBT)

Q: Is Benzotriazole a kind of restricted substance? It is not presently included in either Adidas A01 or Nike Environmental Footwear testing requirements. However, our customer (shoe vendor) is asking if this kind of substance is present in our supplied components or not.
A: No, Benzothiazole (e.g. mercaptobenzothiazole, MBT) is not yet a restricted substance, however, the use of allergens and sensitizers should be minimized in manufacturing processes. It is commonly used as an accelerator in the vulcanisation process of rubber, and a too high concentration in rubber should be avoided. The same applies to carbamates and thiurams.

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CHLORO ORGANIC CARRIERS

Q: Even though carriers are not used in polyester dyeing, COCs (Chloro Organic Carriers) are detected with minimum detection. Please explain this.
A: COCs could, due to their toxic characteristics, also be used as preservatives, insecticides and biocides. This means that raw materials such as dyes, chemicals and fibres could contain trace amounts of COCs, either from manufacturing, storage or transport. COCs are used in the manufacturing process of some dyes and could therefore remain as traces in the finished dyes. For good quality dyes from reputable sources, those traces should be low enough to meet requirements. A close communication with your chemical and raw material suppliers is essential.

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CHROME VI

Q: Chrome VI – how many times and at which level can it be found on finished products (leather shoes and garments), or is it only a problem if shoes are disposed as waste and/or burned in certain facilities?
A: Levels above 150 ppm have been found on finished products. Nowadays CrIII is used as tanning agent but under certain circumstances it could be oxidized into CrVI on the product. To avoid this, the tannery must use certain reducing auxiliaries during production. It is also very important to have a low free CrIII level in the finished product to reduce the risk of CrVI formation.

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FLAME RETARDANTS

Q: In an RSL, it states that flame retardant (FR) chemicals are prohibited. Are all flame retardants prohibited from being used in finishing under RSLs?
A: Not all FR chemicals are banned by law in all countries. However, because this class of substances is composed of many which are highly toxic, global retailers may choose to take no chances and ban them from their product lines. Or retailers may wish to carefully control their use by indicating that FR chemicals may not be used without specific authorization from them. The best advice is to inquire with each company whether the prohibition is absolute or there are any exceptions.

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