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EU bans NPE used in apparels

The European Union has banned nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), widely used in clothing, because they pose an unacceptable risk to the environment. The regulation will come into force from February 2016 and companies will then have five years to remove the chemical from their products and supply chains.

This means there should be no NPE in any textile placed in the market after February 2021 which can be reasonably expected to be washed in water during its normal lifecycle, in concentrations equal to or greater than 0.01 per cent by weight of that textile or of each part of the textile article.

The restriction will not apply to second-hand textile articles or new textile articles produced without the use of NPEs, but exclusively from recycled textiles. NPE degrades in the environment into substances, including nonylphenol , which accumulates in the bodies of fish and disrupts their hormones, harming fertility, growth and sexual development.

NPE is widely used in the textile industry. It was found in waste water discharge from two textile processing facilities in China supplying global apparel firms. The proposal to ban the chemical was brought forward by Sweden in 2013. NPE is used in textile production as wetting agents, detergents, and emulsifiers.