REACH is the regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 that aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. REACH also aims to enhance innovation and competitiveness of the EU chemical industry.
There is no a specific regulatory framework for garments and fashion in Europe, but there is a control on substances by the regulations on chemicals:
- REACH: Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006
- POP: Persistent Organic Pollutants. Regulation (EC) No 850/2004.
The REACH Regulations places responsibility on industry to manage the risks form chemicals, to provide safety information on the substances, and to register in ECHA (European Chemicals Agency). It follows the principle “no data no market”.
Two years later, in 2008, the European Union issued the CLP Regulation for "Classification, Labelling and Packaging". It aimed to align the European system of classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures to the Globally Harmonised System (GHS). CLP don’t apply to food, as well to as other sector with specific regulations (Medical, cosmetics, etc.).
In 2020, the EU published the “EU’s chemicals strategy for sustainability” towards a toxic-free environment, as a part of the EU’s Zero pollution ambition, which is a key commitment of the European Union (European Commission, 2020).
Its objectives are to better protect citizens and the environment and to boost innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals.
To do this, the strategy bans the most harmful chemicals in products (although they can be allowed if there is no alternative); takes into consideration the “cocktail effect” of mixing chemicals; phases out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); promotes the EU’s resilience of supply and sustainability of critical chemicals; and tries to play a leading role globally in this aspect, among other actions.