Textile finishing

The "Textile finishing" product group:

  • washes, bleaches, dyes, prints and coats several textile products (yarns, fibres, carpets, knitted goods, non-woven goods, garment goods etc.),
  • makes them soil-resistant, shrink-proof, flame-retardant, etc.

The activity of textile finishing is either integrated into a textile mill or carried out by independent specialist suppliers (contract finishers). Via textile finishing, colour and additional functionality are added to a textile product.

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Textile finishing companies are, by the nature of their operations, energy-intensive and thus more vulnerable to high energy prices.

Best available techniques

The 'BREF Textiles Industry' is the European reference document containing the best available techniques (BAT) for the textiles industry. In other words, this document describes the techniques (inc. emission limits) that textile companies should apply to reduce their environmental impact. Therefore, the BREF Textiles Industry is the reference document for the government in assessing the environmental conditions for textile companies. The existing BREF dated back to 2003 and was therefore in need of some revision. After a revision process of almost four years, the new BAT conclusions for the textile industry were published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 20 December 2022. Within four years of the publication of the new BAT conclusions at the latest, companies must comply with these new provisions. In the entire preparation process, Fedustria and Centexbel have collaborated intensively and constructively.

High energy prices hit finishing companies hard

Partly as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, energy prices saw an unprecedented rise in 2022. Uncertainty about adequate gas supplies caused energy prices for both natural gas and electricity to explode. Finishers, e.g. textile dyers, are energy-intensive by the very nature of their operations and were therefore faced with these skyrocketing energy costs more than average in the textile industry, which they could not possibly pass on in full. Consequently, certain companies were forced to scale back or temporarily halt their activity.

Chemicals crucial for textile finishing

To imbue textiles with colour and specific properties, chemicals are indispensable. However, the use of chemicals is increasingly restricted in the context of the European REACH. The textile sector is subject to various restrictions. For example, there is the restriction proposal for skin-sensitising substances on textiles. However, not all substances are relevant to the textile sector. The overly extensive list of substances saddles textile companies with unnecessary testing costs. The textile sector therefore is therefore urging for the restriction to be limited to a textile-relevant substance list. Also, new substances can be added only after evaluation of their textile relevance.

Key figures
Number of companies (only companies with 10 employees or more) 40 (13 bespoke and 27 integrated)
Number of employees 940 (500 bespoke and 440 integrated)
Turnover (in million EUR) 168
Exported quota 20 %
Activity evolution in 2022 (in volume) +5,3 %
Share in the total added value of the Belgian textile sector 4 %

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Bruno Eggermont

Bruno Eggermont

Textile finishing Advisor