Oeko-Tex said its new regulations, based on “new scientific findings and legal developments,” will come into force from 1 April 2024, following the regular transition period.

PFAS – new limit value for the total fluorine content

Oeko-Tex said the new limit value for total fluorine (TF) as part of its ban on intentional use of PFAS, replaces the previous parameter for extractable organic fluorine (EOF). Plus, other criteria for microplastics, GMOs and SVHC alignment have been added.

With the widespread use of PFAS and potential impact on human health and the environment, Oeko-Tex explained rapid adjustments were required. It has replaced the extractable organic fluorine (EOF) method with total fluorine. The new limit value of 100 mg/kg affects Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Eco Passport, Leather Standard and Organic Cotton as of 1 January, 2024.

According to Oeko-Tex, this update enables all Oeko-Tex certifications to remain compliant with the US regulations on PFAS.

Oeko-Tex STeP

The updated Oeko-Tex STeP standard will require certified production facilities to mitigate and prevent the release of microplastics from manufacturing processes through “active risk identification and management.”

Oeko-Tex explained that microplastics released from textiles and clothing during both laundering and production processes, threaten aquatic ecosystems, marine organisms and human health. In line with this, STeP standard is aimed at fostering a harmonious collaboration between industrial practices and environmental preservation and support and create a call to action for STeP certified facilities. 

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Oeko-Tex and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Program) continue to collaborate and in 2024 Oeko-Tex STeP certified companies will receive new discounts for the ZDHC Supplier to Zero Program:

  • ZDHC Foundation Level (Level 1) – Fee waived for STeP certified facilities.
  • ZDHC Progressive Level (Level 2) – 50% discount for STeP certified facilities.

Oeko-Tex leather standard

In line with the new European Union (EU) regulation on deforestation-free supply chains, Oeko-Tex pointed out that Leather Standard will increase emphasis on the traceability of leather materials and require proof of origin for materials.

Oeko-Tex continued: “Worldwide, an area larger than the EU has been deforested over the last three decades. The EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR) (Regulation (EU) 2023/1115), adopted in summer 2023, includes strict due diligence obligations for companies placing certain raw materials and products on – or exporting from – the European market.”

Oeko-Tex Organic Cotton

The Oeko-Tex Organic Cotton certification is aimed at “reliable labelling” of organic cotton textiles.

Oeko-Tex said that qualitative DNA analysis determines if a sample contains genetically modified cotton, while quantification shows the proportion of genetically modified cotton.

In addition to testing for harmful substances, Oeko-Tex organic cotton will require less than 5% genetically modified material, a decrease from the previous limit of 10%. The new limit value still accounts for unavoidable impurities, said Oeko-Tex.

Updates in the limit value catalogues

This year, Oeko-Tex has added new substances of very high concern (SVHC) to the limit value catalogues for the Standard 100, Leather Standard, Organic Cotton and Eco Passport certifications.

The association noted that, for instance, Bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone and the solvent 1,4-dioxane can have serious effects on human health and the environment.

Oeko-Tex will explain the changes made to the certifications criteria in a public webinar on 16 January 2024.

Last Spring, Oeko-Tex partnered with ZDHC to establish a cohesive approach to sustainable chemical and product management across global value chains, creating a positive environmental impact.