Sweden submits a textile restriction proposal to EU REACH Regulation
Up to November 29, 2013 two expert committees at ECHA the European Chemicals Agency are accepting stakeholder comments on a restrictions proposal submitted by Sweden on REACH
Sweden’s proposal entails restriction in the use of nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in textile articles such as clothing, fabrics, accessories and interior textiles (including their prints).
The use of NPs and NPEs in concentrations of 0.1 % or more is already restricted since 2005 within the EU in the manufacturing of textiles. On the other hand, a majority of textiles purchased within the EU are imported from manufacturers and suppliers outside of the EU, including from Asia, namely from Hong Kong and mainland China. Sweden now claims that these suppliers still use MNPs and NPEs today, for example as a detergent or emulsifying agent in the manufacture of their textiles. After being imported into the EU, such articles will be washed and residues of NPs and NPEs will be released into waste water. Eventually, these toxic substances will end up in the aquatic environment. NPs enter aquatic life directly as NPs, or as breakdown products from NPEs.
Sweden’s major concern is the prevention of the environment from these toxic substances. NPs are toxic and hormone disrupting substances that may cause long term adverse effects to the aquatic environment.
Therefore Sweden proposes a restriction for inclusion into the REACH Regulation: “Textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles that can be washed in water shall not be placed on the market 60 months after entry into force of the restriction if they contain nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylate alone, or in combination in concentrations equal to or higher than 100 mg/kg textile. The limit value includes prints on the textile articles covered by the proposed restriction.”
Sweden adds a list of examples affected by the proposed restriction, such as underwear, nightwear, hosiery, jackets, dresses, suits, gloves, sports- and swimwear, scarves, shawls, ties, handkerchiefs, bags, curtains, bed and table linen, towels, blankets, throws, mats and rugs. The proposal is not intended to affect articles not washable in water, such as those containing leather.
Sweden expects in the long term that the concentration of NPs and NPEs in textiles would decrease to roughly 29 mg/kg. Moreover, removing these toxic substances from the manufacturing process of textiles would significantly reduce NP emissions in waste water. This would subsequently result in a reduction of the negative impact on biodiversity and the ecosystems in the EU. The proposed restriction is therefore considered an effective measure for reducing the identified risks.