Nike has announced a partnership with DyeCoo Textyle Systems, a Dutch company that has created the world’s first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machine. In other words, the brand will soon be significantly cutting down on their water consumption.
When dyeing fabrics the traditional way, about 40 gallons of water are used to dye as little as two pounds of fabric. By 2015, about 39 million tons of polyester are expected to be dyed. That’s an obscene amount of water.
DyeCoo’s process uses fluid carbon dioxide to dye fabrics. It involves reduced energy and zero water consumption. The process is also free of auxiliary chemicals, and there is no drying time. It is done twice as quickly as traditional dyeing techniques. The technology is even capable of improving the quality of the dyed fabric, allowing for greater control over the process.
While this has only been done commercially to polyester, Nike is researching how to apply it to other natural and synthetic fibers. The process has been used before in other industries, such as the decaffeination of coffee.
Nike maintains that a goal of this partnership is to show brands around the world how it can benefit their industry, eventually turning it into a new standard around the world. If all goes well, the company may be showcasing products dyed with this new process at the Olympic games in London later this year.
Last summer, Greenpeace International issued a report linking Nike, as well as other apparel brands, to Chinese textile plants accused of dumping hazardous dyeing chemicals into public waterways. While Nike claims they never used the plants in question for the processes that led to the waste, they did pledge to eliminate hazardous chemical waste from their supply chain by 2020.
If all goes well, this could be one of many partnerships put in place by the company’s new Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab.
If the company proves it can save time, money, waste, and the environment with this new process, there’s little doubt other companies will hop on the bandwagon. As we know, it’s all about the profits with these companies, isn’t it?