New dyeing process touted by Wrangler, Lee, and Walmart promises to cut water and energy use by more than 90 per cent
A new technology that claims to cut the energy and water needed to dye denim by more than 90 per cent has been endorsed by some of the world's largest jean manufacturers.
Wrangler, Lee, and the Walmart Foundation are early stage investors in the technology, which has been developed by Indigo Mill Design (IMD). Representatives from all four firms were present for an unveiling of the new technology last week at the the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute of Texas Tech University.
The jean dyeing breakthrough is based on foam-dyeing technology. The approach provides an environmentally friendly method of dyeing yarns, but it previously been thought unsuitable for use in the jean dyeing process because indigo dye reacts to oxygen in the air.
IMD's solution, IndigoZERO, overcomes this problem and claims to cut the energy and water use in indigo dyeing by more than 90 per cent, as well as reduce the amount of chemicals used in the process.
Wrangler's brand president Tom Waldron said the technology has the potential to "dramatically improve" the environmental impact of the denim industry.
For example, the companies said if Wrangler and Lee's fabric suppliers adopted the technology it would save eight billion litres of water a year - equivalent to the annual water consumption of 70,000 Americans.
Both Wrangler and Lee said they will ensure the technology is rolled out to their suppliers across the US and Mexico before expanding its use worldwide, a move Wrangler said could conserve 17 billion litres of water annually.
In related news, earlier this month Swedish future fashion research unit Mistra Future Fashion revealed a major breakthrough in recycled cotton technology after six years of research.
Mistra has developed Blend Re:Wind, a new chemical process for separating out blended fabrics of cotton and polyster so they can be easily sent for recycling and turned into new products.
Hanna de la Motte, theme leader of Mistra Future Fashion and a research scientist at the Research Institutes of Sweden, said the focus of the Blend re;Wind research was on developing a technique that would produce high quality materials for reuse while minimising the environmental impact of the process.
While she acknowledged the biggest challenge is scaling up the technology, the project's focus on developing a system that could integrate into traditional industrial processes should make the transition easier.
"There are many brilliant recycling innovations in progress globally at the moment, highly needed for successful future recycling systems," she added. "Different processes will most probably be needed and we hope that Blend Re:wind is one of these on the global market in the future."
The backdrop for the annual UN Climate Summit was bleak - progress now needs to accelerate as the logic of the Paris Agreement is applied
The new call for evidence on tackling plastic packaging is both welcome and a stark warning for businesses about the pace at which green issues can climb the political agenda
Shell and bio-bean team up to provide biofuel containing part coffee oil for London buses in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Report by think tank Bright Blue sets out a vision for post-Brexit farming that would incentivise measures to boost ecosystems, woodland, and peatland