By Emily Walzer. Whether discussing water savings in manufacturing, protecting the waterways in public land disputes or rescuing the oceans from plastics pollution, water is an escalating topic of discussion within the industry and with consumers. Textile suppliers are in the deep end of the water conservation issue, as conventional production methods are dependent on large quantities of water to achieve results. Recently, however, significant tech advances have ushered in new environmentally aware processes for textile dyeing and finishing.
With regard to synthetics, solution dyeing has gotten a new life in the past few years as start-ups and established firms alike are investing in machinery and marketing to meet contemporary demands. But innovation in dyeing natural fibers has proved elusive; considering the water-use associated with dyeing cotton, for instance, the need for resource reduction is definitely there. An often cited statistic, for example, is that one plain cotton t-shirt requires 2700 liters of water.
Now, a more sustainable model for dyeing and finishing cotton and other cellulosic yarns is available. Described as “radically different,” this new direct color application method uses 98 percent less water, 70 percent less chemicals and 50 percent less energy to create a washed down effect. Hong Kong-based Taylor Home & Fashions featured the technology in its GiDelave yarns at a recent Copenhagen Fashion Summit. A crowded booth and plenty of positive feedback from attendees validated industry belief that buyer interest in sourcing textiles with a strong sustainability story is on the rise.
The unique zero process wastewater process, developed and commercialized by Taylor Home & Fashions president and CEO Anthony Lau, eliminates the dye bath. “Lack of effluent is a key benefit,” states Allen Thompson, president, Chartreuse Group, the representative for GiDelave yarns and fabrics. “I like to say we use more water flushing toilets than coloring the product.”
Compared to the traditional multi -step dyeing and finishing process that requires multiple chemicals in multiple baths with rinses, GiDelave uses only two chemical classes and pigment, which are diffused on the yarn in one step. The chemicals are ZDHC compliant, Oeko -Tex Standard 100 approved, and easy to trace.
According to Allen, the GiDelave color diffusion process can produce a full spectrum of colors including all shades of indigo, saturated colors, neutrals, and neons. The resulting fabrics look wash-downed without going through the normal wash procedure. In addition, the resulting fabrics do not have the crocking and staining problems associated with indigo dye.
Aesthetic value is another key attribute of the color diffusion process. “There is no compromise when it comes to aesthetics like hand -feel; softness is something we are very proud of,” comments Jennifer Thompson, VP, Chartreuse Group, in charge of marketing and business development.
The Thompsons, textile veterans having held a variety of leadership positions within the industry, look to build GiDelave business in apparel and home using the technology to produce yarns and fabrics. While offering several benefits, the execs say the sweet spot of the process is its sustainability and the washed down look achieved that is applicable for a range of end uses desired in today’s marketplace. Says Jennifer, “We can provide woven fabric for bedding and home textiles as well for tops and bottoms and yarns for knitting, from polos, and t -shirts to sweater knits.”
Having focused on fiber for years, talk in eco circles is now turning increasingly to discussion of process. The search for new eco-efficient ways to conserve resources throughout the supply chain is a priority, especially as demand for textile transparency escalates from consumers. But just like fiber concerns of years past, the latest eco developments must live up claims and meet sustainability standards.
Sam Moore, PhD evaluated the GiDelave process during an inspection visit to the production facility in Asia earlier this year at the request of Taylor Home & Fashions Ltd. Brought in as an independent 3rd party to verify claims, Moore was impressed. “I think this is the first real breakthrough in the coloration of cotton that I have seen in my career. The implications in water savings for the industry are significant.”
Dr. Moore has 25 years experience in strategic development, education, support and management of sustainability initiatives in the textile and chemical industry, non-profit organizations and academics. He served as managing director of Hohenstein Institute America overseeing operations Okeo-Tex Standard 100 and STeP (Sustainable Textile Production) third party certifications in the U.S. and all advanced textile research and testing projects for U.S. customers.
“With GiDelave, cotton yarn coloration jumps out of the Industrial Revolution to an infinitely more sustainable business model that uses constrained resources responsibly and employs flexible technology to remain nimble and responsive to the market,” states Dr. Moore, adding, “The process is radically different in nature, yet elegant and I expect to see it become faster and better in the years ahead.”
With eco certifications in place, ability to scale up manufacturing, and a strategic partnership with Lenzing inked, many boxes have been checked to move GiDelave yarns and fabrics forward in a big way. States Jennifer Thompson, “We are optimistic about opportunities.”