SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 023/16
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 new restriction on textiles containing NPE in concentrations at least 0.01% will become effective after 3 February, 2021.
The restriction applies to any unfinished, semi-finished or finished products comprising at least 80% textile fibers or any other product containing a part comprising at least 80% textile fibers including products such as clothing, accessories, interior textiles, fibres, yarn, fabrics and knitted panels. The restriction prohibits the articles containing a concentration of nonylphenol ethoxylates NPEs equal to or greater 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 their normal lifecycle.
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.
NPEs are important to the textile industry because their excellent detergent or emulsifying properties make them suitable for a wide variety of applications such as cleaning, coating, dyeing and as a rinsing agent. However, 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.
There will be a transition period of 60 months between the adoption of the restriction and its applicability. The transition period gives manufacturers and producers of textile articles sufficient time to adapt their production processes in order to comply with the restriction.
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