A new sustainability initiative for the fashion industry aims to bring together eight companies working on innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of material processing, one of the most resource-intensive phases of the fashion supply chain.
Sportswear giant Adidas, luxury fashion brand Kering, US clothing giant PVH Corp, Indian textile manufacturer Arvind Limited and Welspun India have teamed up with the Fashion for Good initiative on the scheme, which will initially focus on the experimentation of “dry processing” technologies capable of reducing the environmental impact of the pre-treatment and coloring of cotton, polyester, blends, denim and wool.
Pre-treatment, coloring and finishing of fabrics typically take place in large tubs or bathrooms that require large amounts of energy, heat and water. The chemical-intensive process releases large amounts of toxins into the water and is responsible for 52% of emissions in the fashion supply chain, according to Fashion For Good.
Switching to dry processing techniques that use less energy and no or little water when processing materials could provide an important “lever” to reduce the overall environmental impact of the textile industry, the group said.
New actors and technologies to drive change
The eight innovations selected for the D (R) YE Factory of the Future program have the potential to reduce emissions by up to 89% and reduce water consumption by between 83% and 95%, Fashion for Good said. Among the technologies pioneered through the scheme are plasma and laser treatments, spray dyeing, foam dyeing and supercritical CO2, he added.
“Textile processing is the main source of carbon emissions in the supply chain and the shift to mainly dry processing is critical to the path to net zero,” said Katrin Ley, CEO of Fashion for Good.
Technologies pioneered through the scheme include plasma and laser treatments, spray dyeing, foam dyeing and supercritical CO2.
The eight innovators selected to participate – Alchemie Technologies, Deven Supercriticals, eCO2Dye, GRINP, Indigo Mill Designs, imogo, MTIX and Stony Creek Colors – will need to collaborate with each other and work closely with program partners.
Ley said testing the technologies in combination would be critical to unlocking their full decarbonisation potential.
“Given the interdependencies in the processing stages, self-assessment of solutions is not enough,” he said. “By validating a combination of technologies, we can unlock the full potential of these solutions.”
A report will be released in late 2022 that will share the results of the assessments, as well as the next steps for a broader implementation of dry machining technologies and techniques, he said.