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STOCKHOLM – Potentially hazardous textile chemicals were found in thousands of cotton textile garments collected randomly from recyclers around Europe. IKEA and H&M Group conducted a large-scale study to better understand how current recyclable textiles measure against existing chemical standards. The findings point to another potential headache when it comes to boosting fibre-fibre recycling rates, which remain extremely low globally.

Closing the recycling loop for textiles already presents several key challenges, including lack of recycling technologies, limited availability of collected recyclable textiles, and traceability. To that list can now be added the presence of chemical content in collected textiles. APEO (Alkylphenol Ethoxylates) were among chemicals found in the 8,000-strong sample. These have hormone disruptive properties and are toxic to aquatic organisms. Other samples contained formaldehydes, heavy metals and phthalates.

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