Plasma and laser treatments, spray dyeing, foam dyeing and supercritical CO2 all set to be tested in Fashion for Good scheme, which aims to accelerate the shift from wet to dry processing of textiles

A new sustainability initiative for the fashion sector is aiming to bring together eight different companies working on innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of materials processing, one of the most resource intensive stages of the fashion supply chain.

Sportwear giant Adidas, luxury fashion brand Kering, US clothing giant PVH Corp, Indian textile manufacturer Arvind Limited, and Welspun India have partnered with the Fashion for Good initiative on the scheme, which will initially focus on trialling ‘dry processing’ technologies that can reduce the environmental impact of pre-treatment and colouration of cotton, polyester, blends, denim, and wool.

Pre-treatment, colouration and finishing of textiles typically takes place in large tanks or baths which require vast amounts of energy, heat, and water. The chemicals-intensive process releases large amounts of toxins into the water and is responsible for 52 per cent of emissions the fashion supply chain, according to Fashion For Good.

A shift to dry processing techniques that use less energy and no or minimal water during materials processing could provide a major ‘lever’ for reducing the overall enviornmental impact of the textiles industry, the group said.

The eight innovations selected for the D(R)YE Factory of the Future scheme have the potential to reduce emissions by up to 89 per cent and cut water consumption by between 83 per cent and 95 per cent, Fashion for Good said. Among the technologies being trialled through the scheme are plasma and laser treatments, spray dyeing, foam dyeing, and supercritical CO2, it added.

“Textile processing is the largest contributor to carbon emissions in the supply chain and a shift to mostly dry processing is crucial for the path to net zero,” said Katrin Ley, managing director at Fashion for Good.

The eight innovators picked to take part – Alchemie Technologies, Deven Supercriticals, eCO2Dye, GRINP, Indigo Mill Designs, imogo, MTIX, and Stony Creek Colors – will be expected collaborate with each other and work closely with the scheme’s partners.

Ley said testing the technologies in combination with one and other would be critical to unlocking their full decarbonisation potential.  

“Given the interdependencies in the processing stages, a stand-alone assessment of solutions is not sufficient,” she said. “By validating a combination of technologies, we can unlock the full potential of those solutions.”

A report will be published in late 2022 that shares the results from the evaluations, as well as next steps for the wider implementation of dry processing technologies and techniques, it said.

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