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Substitution of Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEOs) in greasy wool washing


This case story describes substitution of NPEOs (belonging to the group of Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs)). They were detected during the product validation of a woven wool carpet. The source of the NPEO was suspected to be in the washing process of the greasy wool used for the carpet.

Substituted substance(s)

  1. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEOs)

    CAS No.  EC No.  Index No. 

Other type of alternative

Substitution of wool material, washed with APEO-free detergents, e.g:
Alcohols, C12-13, ethoxylated (CAS 66455-14-9), Poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), a-sulfo-w-(dodecyloxy)-, sodium salt (1:1) (CAS 9004-82-4), Alcohols, C12-15, ethoxylated (CAS 68131-39-5)

Reliability of information

Evidence of implementation: there is evidence that the solution was implemented and in use at time of publication

Hazard assessment

Different nonylphenolethoxylates are on the hazardous substance database according to SUBSPORT screening criteria (SDSC) for being endocrine disruptors.

» Check the Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC)

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Substitution description

Despite their restriction for waste water relevant processes in the EU, APEOs are used outside of Europe and hence may be contained in imported products. APEOS as well as their degradation products are highly toxic for water organisms and cause long term hazardous effect. They are persistent and bio accumulative. NPEOs are listed on the REACH SVHC list and their use in waste water relevant processes is restricted in the EU (Directive 2003/53/EC).
Alkylphenol Ethoxylate are restricted for Tchibo products per restricted substances list (RSL) limit value and are tested on a regular basis in the final product. A usage ban for APEOs in production has been included in the quality requirements in 2015.

In the textile and leather industry APEOs, such as NPEOs cover a broad scope of application, as they are very strong detergents (e.g. wetting agents, emulsifiers, dispersants, oil or grease treatment, dyeing additives, degreasing agents) and are used as emulsifiers in agro-chemicals (e.g. herbizides and pesticides) which may contaminate vegetable and animal fibres. Due to the good cleaning and emulsifying properties APEOs are very suitable for washing of greasy wool and degreasing of sheep skins. Substitutes like alcohol ethoxylates often do not show the same strong cleaning properties and hence must be used in higher concentrations. Other alternatives like chlorinated solvents (e.g. Trichloroethylene/ CAS 79-01-6) show good cleaning properties, but are known to cause severe hazardous effects.

To avoid the occurrence of NPEOs, possible measures have been discussed with the supplier. Finally the supplier was informed to substitute the yarn for the production of the article due to the contaminated material and to request APEO/ NPEO-free processed wool. The analysis of the substituted material showed no exceedance of the restricted substances.

Tchibo will enhance both training and auditing of suppliers in order to continuously improve the chemical management and phase out of hazardous chemicals in the supply chains. For any chemical substitution the following conditions must be met:
– Significant information on hazardous intrinsic characteristics for the substance is available
– It is ensured and verified that the substitution is nonhazardous
– Application of the alternative formulation in the same process has been tested and the use of substitution can be technically implemented.
The company will publish a revised case study after having gained more results about approved methods and alternative chemicals.

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Case/substitution evaluation

This case story from a user describes the substitution of NPEOs in wool materials with materials washed with APEO-free detergents.

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Other solutions

Further information

Nonylphenol Ethoxylates. Guidance sheet from ZDHC.

SUBSPORT Specific Substances Alternatives Assessment – Nonylphenols and Nonylphenol ethoxylates, available at:

ECHA, information on chemicals, available at:

Further languages available

Who provided the information

Type of information supplier


Tchibo GmbH
Überseering 18
22297 Hamburg

Publication source

Type of publication and availability 

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Comments from SUBSPORT users

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Publication or last update: 10.10.2016