Jul 27, 2015
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Europe prohibits the use of NPE in textiles

Jul 27, 2015

Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) is widely used in the textile industry but, according to the EU member states, it presents "unacceptable risks". The EU has therefore decided to completely prohibit its use in imported goods. 


NPE is especially destructive to marine wildlife, since water-treatment equipment cannot filter it effectively. Not to mention that NPE can penetrate the human body through the skin, causing hormonal problems and affecting growth and fertility.

Used for cleaning, rinsing and dyeing fabrics, NPE was put under the spotlight by Greenpeace in 2011, when the NGO declared it had found traces of it in two thirds of the products tested within the European Union. Adidas, H&M, Lacoste and also Ralph Lauren were among the brands particularly affected by this.

A proposal was officially put forward in 2013 to prohibit the use of NPE in Europe. An initiative by Sweden backed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Now the subject of an agreement among member states, the measure should be approved in the next few weeks. However, it will take another five years before the legislation goes into effect.

Greenpeace's declared long-term objective is to succeed in making major brands themselves prohibit the use of NPE. "And we must bear in mind that some manufacturers are simply unaware that they are dealing with highly polluting products," Ulrike Kallee, a chemicals expert for the NGO, observed as far back as 2012. "This is why we are turning to the brands, in order for them to take part in the issue and heighten their partners' awareness." 

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