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Tallinn Conference on Management of Hazardous Chemicals under the EU Industrial Emission Directive (IED)

10. July 2019

Dr. Thomas Schaefer, Head of bluesign academy, was invited to participate at a panel discussion on Tallinn Conference about Management of Hazardous Chemicals under the EU Industrial Emission Directive (EU-IED).

The conference on May 21 to May 22 was an interim stakeholder meeting in the framework of a project funded by European Union, called HAZBREF (Hazardous Industrial Chemicals in the IED Best Available Techniques Reference Documents). The project is organized by German EPA, Swedish EPA, IETU (Polish Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas) and EKUK (Estonian Environmental Research Centre).


The Industrial Emissions Directive is the main instrument on the EU level to control hazardous substances that are released from industrial sites as for example textile finishing plants. The reference documents, or BREFs, currently focus not in detail on the management of hazardous chemicals. The project aims to close this knowledge gap that industry and authorities can manage hazardous substances in a better way. The scope and focus of the HAZBREF and the integration in the existing BREFs is still under discussion. However, it is evident that excellent chemicals management in textile finishing plants is a must and the dissemination of European BREF including HAZBREF to overseas can support that environmental performance of global textile supply chain improves step by step. 


As a co-author of Best Available Techniques in Textile Industry on behalf of German EPA and with 12 years of experience with Bluesign Dr. Thomas Schaefer emphasizes the need for a Clean Factory approach and Responsible Care thinking not only for textile manufacturer but also for chemical suppliers. He highlighted the effectiveness of a positive list of preferred chemicals as the bluesign® FINDER when it comes to Chemicals Change Management. Besides chemical supplier and textile manufacturer it is clearly on responsibility of the brands and retailers to manage within the supply chain that textiles are produced with fairness for people and environment.

Still it is evident that more than 80 % of all chemicals used in textile finishing end up in the wastewater path. Therefore, following the MRSL approach to restrict some chemical substances – mostly contained as impurities in the dyes and textile auxiliaries - is not sufficient at all. Parameters as biodegradation/bioelimination and aquatic toxicity of the chemical formulations are also very important, and one should not oversee. Additionally, looking to air emissions, VOC management and avoidance of solvents with CMR properties as for example N,N-Dimethylformamide is of highest interest.

The considerably low prices of auxiliaries and dyes, which turn research investment in this field expensive are a barrier for the needed further development steps or even for disruptive innovations. Dr. Thomas Schaefer also referred to the many low hanging fruits, which in sum bear immense potential for improving the environmental and OH&S performance in textile manufacturing.