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Restriction of NPE in Textile Products

On 14 January, 2016, the European Commission published a regulation in the Official Journal of the EU to restrict the use of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in textile articles and to amend Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH). The restriction prohibits the articles containing a concentration of nonylphenol ethoxylates NPEs equal to or more than 0.01% (100 mg/kg) of the textile article or of each part of the textile article that can reasonably be expected to be washed in water during its normal lifecycle.

Textile articles containing NPEs can be washed and the resulting water containing these toxic substances can enter the aquatic environment to form nonylphenols (NPs), a family of potentially hazardous and hormone-disrupting chemicals.

To give companies enough time to make the necessary preparations, the new regulation will only become effective after 3 February, 2021.

According to the regulation, second-hand textile articles and new textile articles produced exclusively from recycled textiles are exempt from the restriction. The exemption applies because it is assumed that the articles made from recycled textiles will usually have been washed several times already and will therefore contain negligible amounts of NPEs.

In Europe, the use of NPE in textiles is already restricted by annex XVII of REACH. The main problem is caused by textile products that are imported. Imported yarns and fabrics are washed during the production process in Europe, leading to the presence of nonylphenols in the wastewater evacuated by the European textile manufacturer.

Individual companies have no or little influence on foreign suppliers. Thanks to the new regulation, non-European suppliers will - in time - be forced to ban NPE’s from their production if they want to put their products on the EU-market.

For more information about REACH and testing of hazardous substances, contact Stijn Steuperaert

For more information on the conditions and legislation in the field of textile wastewater evacuation, contact Dirk Weydts