Activists celebrate ban on imported clothing containing nonylphenol ethoxylates after long campaign against them

Campaigners at Greenpeace are celebrating the EU’s decision to ban imports on textiles containing nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), chemicals used as detergents and wetting agents in the manufacture of clothing .

The organisation has been lobbying for many years to ban the use of NPEs, which are released into waterways when clothes containing them are washed. There they break down into nonylphenol (NP), which accumulates in the environment and has been shown to have toxic and endocrine-disrupting effects on fish and other wildlife.

The EU banned the use of NPEs in textile manufacture several years ago, but the latest decision prevents companies importing NPE-containing textiles that have been manufactured elsewhere. Many high profile clothing brands, such as Nike and Puma, have also announced plans to remove textiles made using NPE from their products.

Greenpeace called the move a ‘huge victory’ for campaigners. ‘Manufacturing countries such as China rely heavily on their trade relationship with Europe,’ the organisation said. ‘China’s textile industry needs to be more progressive in identifying and banning harmful chemicals from their products otherwise they will lose a key market.’