THE EUROPEAN Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has announced new reforms to the European Union’s (EU) new biocidal products regulation, clarifying difficulties discovered in the original legislation, in force from last September (2013). Widely used in anti-microbial and insecticide-impregnated knitted fabrics, a new amending regulation for biocidal products in force from April 25 (334/2014) includes a new definition of biocidal product families by risk and efficacy. It also confirms that new biocide-treated articles can be sold in the EU if an application for approval of an active substance or product type used is made by September 1, 2016.


Meanwhile, ECHA announced an additional reform to the biocide rules – in force from June 4 – on renewing biocide authorisations granted through “mutual recognition”. That covers products first authorised by an EU member state, rather than a central EU authorisation, where another EU government approves a biocidal product by recognising an initial national authorisation. The new rules say how companies should apply to renew such authorisations; how regulators should assess them; and setting grace periods for sales of stocks of these biocidal products if no authorisation renewal is made. See

Other international regulatory developments impacting the knitwear sector:

*The European Union (EU) has called on the Bangladesh government to restructure and expand its Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, increasing staffing and boosting training for labour inspectors. In a message to this month’s International Labour Conference, staged by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the EU said the Bangladesh government should take these steps to push ahead with its stated ‘modernisation and strengthening’ policy for the department. It added that Dhaka should “address remaining shortcomings identified by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Committee of Experts in a report regarding labour law reform, and continue implementing commitments under the EU – Bangladesh Global Sustainability Compact, “including the outstanding issues with regard to inspections.”

*The European Commission has released guidance for emerging market knitwear sectors explaining how exporters to the EU can secure market access benefits under its GSP+ system. A key issue is demonstrating the origin of products, and the Commission’s ‘Guide for Users’ says: “It is not enough to show that the materials or parts were purchased locally. You must get from your local supplier a statement about the origin of the goods he has supplied.” That said, the guide adds: “If you are making knitted or crocheted garments and the origin rule requires ‘knitting and making-up’, it will be sufficient for you to obtain evidence from your local fabric supplier that the fabric was knitted or crocheted locally.” Manufacture from an imported (non-originating) knitted or crocheted fabric break this rule of origin, it said.

*The European Commission has until July 22 to rule on whether a planned acquisition by American chemicals giant Huntsman of businesses owned by US-based rival Rockwood, which include European Union (EU) titanium dioxide plants run under the ‘Sachtleben’ brand. Brussels fears the deal “may reduce competition in the market for sulphate-based titanium dioxide”, a key yarn pigment agent – especially for whitening. The Commission is staging a detailed investigation and may use competition powers to halt or impose conditions on the purchase. “The removal of the competitive constraint that Huntsman and Sachtleben currently exert on each other may therefore lead to less choice… and potentially higher prices for the products concerned,” said a Commission note.

*The United States’ Bureau of Consumer Protection has released a detailed regulatory guide for manufacturers and retailers handling cashmere-based products, so that they keep within US legislation. A key law is the Wool Products Labeling Act, and its requirements on fibre content disclosure, testing, care labelling and other rules. See

*European Union (EU) consumer alert service RAPEX has circulated concerns raised by Hungarian consumer authorities about a boy’s jacket exported by Chinese knitwear company QiFeng. Its note said the “product poses a risk of strangulation due to the presence of drawstrings with toggles on the ends in the hood”. Hungarian consumer authorities have withdrawn the product from sale in Hungary.