EU: Domestic laundering releases toxic clothing chemicals
Environmental pressure group Greenpeace is continuing its campaign against toxic chemicals in the apparel supply chain with the release of new research that suggests traces of hazardous substances in clothing from brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, G-Star and Calvin Klein are being released into public waterways when they are washed by consumers.
The research measures for the first time the percentage of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) which were washed out during simulated standard domestic laundering conditions for 14 clothing items.
The chemicals, used in textile manufacture, enter rivers, lakes and seas where they break down to form nonylphenol, which has hormone-disrupting properties and is harmful to human health.
Greenpeace says the apparel brands are "unknowingly polluting the public water supplies in regions and countries around the world, including those where there are restrictions or bans on the use of these chemicals."
The use of NP and NPEs in clothing manufacture has effectively been banned within the EU and similar restrictions are also in place in the US and Canada. In the EU, releases of NP/NPEs due to the washing of textile products imported from outside the EU have been estimated to constitute by far the largest source of these chemicals entering wastewater treatment facilities.
"The textile industry is still polluting. It's time the sector moved to safe alternatives to these chemicals," said Greenpeace international toxics campaigner Marietta Harjono.
"This study proves that the textile industry is creating water pollution all around the globe. While the discharges of toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process is focused where the textile are produced, the washing of the clothes and the pollution which follows are happening anywhere in the world these products are bought."
This latest research follows two 'Dirty Laundry' reports published by Greenpeace last year. The first investigated clothing suppliers in China who were found to be releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas, while the second detailed the presence of NPEs in 15 brands of clothing and footwear.
As a result of the subsequent global 'Detox' campaign six leading brands and retailers - Adidas, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nikeand Puma - have all agreed to work together to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals in their supply chains by 2020.
The environmental group now wants more brands to join the Detox challenge - and is calling for "clear and ambitious" short-term deadlines for the elimination of the most hazardous chemicals.
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