Bluesign introduces management and phase-out concept for critical solvents

16. September 2021

Bluesign introduces management and phase-out concept for critical solvents
A significant reduction in the use and emissions of CMR solvents is expected when the concept is fully implemented by bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies before the end of 2024.


The concept is being launched as part of Bluesign’s strong commitment to reducing impact on people and planet, improving occupational health and safety, and providing the highest level of consumer safety.

In the textile industry, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used for various purposes, such as polyurethane coating and laminating. Requirements regarding VOCs have already been implemented successfully for several years by bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies, based on the bluesign® CRITERIA.

In addition to its existing approach to hazardous chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Bluesign is now introducing a solvent management and phase-out concept for CMR solvents in cooperation with stakeholders.

CMR substances are chemical substances of specific concern due to the long-term and serious impact they may have on human health. These substances can be carcinogenic (having the potential to cause cancer), mutagenic (causing DNA mutations), or toxic for reproduction (affecting the fertility of adults). The specific solvents of concern are N,N-dimethylformamide (DMFa), N, N-dimethylacetamide, NMP, NEP, and toluene.

The CMR solvent phase-out concept applies to all bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies manufacturing articles with such solvents (e.g. coaters and laminators). A single medium-sized coating company uses about 700t of DMF and 200t of toluene annually. A significant reduction in the use and emissions of CMR solvents can therefore be expected when the concept is implemented by bluesign® System Partner companies.

In compliance with existing guidelines as well as the CMR solvent concept, which will become the guideline for the next few years, bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies have full responsibility for non-regrettable substitution of these substances and must switch to less hazardous solvents. Using water-based solvents is a possible route for substitution.

If for performance reasons the use of a CMR solvent is currently unavoidable and the solvent is not banned by Bluesign, companies must fulfill one of the following requirements based on the CMR solvent concept:

  • Install an off-gas abatement system with an efficiency for CMR solvent(s) of at least 95% or a TOC concentration in the off-gas of less than 10 mg/m³ (all relevant emission ports)


  • Install a recycling system with an efficiency for CMR solvents of 95% or more

CMR solvent concept implementation has the following deadlines:

  • By the end of 2022, bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies demonstrate full implementation of the concept or must provide a detailed improvement plan.  
  • By the end of 2024 all bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER companies must demonstrate full implementation of the concept.

Progress in CMR solvent management will be monitored by Bluesign through regular on-site assessments and further specific follow-up. Bluesign will inform on the progress.

“Burton recognizes our responsibility as an outdoor brand to hold our products to the highest levels of sustainability, and to ensure that our suppliers work in ethical and safe environments. As a bluesign® SYSTEM PARTNER since 2011, Burton trusts the bluesign® SYSTEM to advance efforts in textile sustainability and chemicals management. We continuously strive to improve the environmental attributes of our materials. Projects like CMR solvent abatement serve to address the most pressing issues in our supply chain, where chemical sustainability and performance can work in tandem to create safer workspaces and eco-friendly products. We fully endorse this important evolution for the management of solvents by the industry’s best suppliers and the responsible brands who work with them," says Ali Kenney, Chief Strategy Officer, Burton Snowboard Inc.

“From the beginning of our system partnership we appreciated that BLUESIGN focuses not only on wastewater but also on off-gas emissions. Due to the demand for the highest performance levels for our garments and backpacks , we are currently using solvent coated fabrics and  are pleased that  BLUESIGN is now defining a clear set of requirements and timelines for the use of CMR solvents, which we want to substitute as soon as possible," says Bettina Roth, Head of Quality and CSR Supply Chain at VAUDE. “The CMR solvent concept creates a good opportunity for the supply chain to change for the good.”

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