Design & Fashion

The EU to ban imports of toxic fabric

Clothes containing nonylphenol ethoxylates are harmful to aquatic ecosystems and aren’t going to be sold anymore in Europe.

The practices of the fashion industry that have an impact on the environment are increasingly receiving attention from the authorities globally. Along with the US, in fact, even the EU now needs to regulate the textile industry approving unanimously a regulation that will ban the sale of any garment containing more than 0.01 percent of nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE).

This substance, used to dye fabrics and make them brighter, is highly toxic for the environment and, particularly, for aquatic ecosystems. The water used to wash clothes containing NPE, indeed, absorbs this chemical compound that not even purification systems can drain away. The contaminated liquid directly reaches basins where there are fish and other living beings, intended or not for the food market, threatening the functioning of their endocrine system and all related activities.

Scarico delle acque sporche in un corso d'acqua

 The 2011 report “Dirty Laundry 2: Hung out to dry” by Greenpeace revealed that a huge quantity of clothes, including those sold by major clothing brands contains NPE. In light of this, the consumers’ responsibility is not enough to contain the problem but it is required an authoritative intervention.

In Europe, for years there is a law that bans the sale of clothing items containing nonylphenol ethoxylates, but it is a restriction applied exclusively to the products realised within the continent. Under the impulse of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), located in Helsinki, the European Parliament announced that, from now on, will be extended to the products imported by Asian countries, such as China, where there is still anarchy on the environmental issues.

Esempio di lavoro in fabbrica di manodopera asiatica

 This EU measure embodies a strong message: just by putting a halt to risk imports and decreasing the demand of such goods, it is possible to encourage Asian countries, the major cloth suppliers worldwide, to turn to less harmful practices for the Planet.


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