Producing Blue Denim Using 92% Less Water

An innovative, award-winning company developed new dyes and processes for producing blue denim that are far more sustainable, while still offering the classic look.

Producing Blue Denim Using 92% Less Water - Alpha Moment

Challenge

Creating a More Sustainable Dyeing Process For Blue Denim
Denim production, which accounts for 14% of global cotton use, requires a tremendous amount of water – it is estimated that 2,500 gallons are needed to produce a single pair of jeans. Given current water shortages, this is clearly a process in desperate need of a sustainable solution. The difficulty lay in the fact that indigo, the favored dye for blue jeans, isn’t soluble in water in its natural form and can’t penetrate cotton fiber, thus necessitating a complicated dyeing process that demands tons of water and energy.

To get that classic blue jean look created by indigo dyes, Archroma (formerly Clariant) knew that a different type of chemistry would be needed.

Solution

Discovering Dyes That Look Like Indigo, But Have a Green Footprint
Archroma’s researchers started looking at sulphur-dye chemistry, going on to successfully produce dyes with a wide spectrum of shades. Dubbed Diresul RDT, the dyes don’t contain heavy metals and only require a single bio-degradable reducing agent. They offer a nearly identical look to indigo, while meeting the criteria for the Oeko-Tex Standard 10, the Global Organic Textile Standard, and the bluesign standard. Archroma then devised innovative processes for applying the new dyes that are much more efficient and ‘green’ than the indigo dyeing process.

Impact

Game-Changing Resource Savings
In several trials, Archroma’s Advanced Denim has been shown to save up to 92% water, 30% energy and 87% cotton waste. The company has figured that if its Advanced Denim technology was used to produce just one quarter of jeans made across the globe, enough water would be saved to supply 1.7 million people annually – as well as reduce wastewater treatment and energy consumption.

The company has already seen a strong response from textile mills and some denim mills have developed their own collections based on Advanced Denim. Considering that most people own several pairs of jeans, and concern for environmental sustainability is increasing, Advanced Denim is poised to be a huge success.



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