Color processes in textile industry with reduced emissions

As the global textile dyes market is projected to rise with increased demand from the garment industry, brands are advised to take responsible color routes depending on their size to reduce emissions and water and energy usage.

Kelly Bongrain, a client specialist at trend forecasting company, WGSN, said they need to review approaches and implement the best practice.

“The key to responsible color starts before you get to your dye choices. Stage one is to audit all wet processing, assessing overall emissions and waste output and identifying where you can reduce its impact across the value chain,” she said in a webinar.

As water scarcity is increasing, Bongrain said there are three products to lower water usage in the dye process –water-efficient dyes, water-free dyeing processes or spin dyeing.

“Dyes use less water, fewer chemicals and have lower CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions,” she said. “Most suitable water efficient and water free solutions are ready to scale. More investment will be needed within the supply chain.”

Bongrain urged brands to evaluate ‘waterless’ dyes to check claims and efficiency, audit water usage in preparation and finishing to calculate overall water use and efficiency.

“Explore where in your supply base you could partner with peers to pilot to scale,” she added.

Bongrain said products can be manufactured without color to save thousands of gallons of wastewater and energy in production, while dyes are emerging that can use textile waste to create pigments.

She said biotech innovators are creating dye pigments derived from bacteria, eliminating toxic chemicals and excessive water use.

Bongrain further said brands producing Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic garments should use natural dyes to support biodegradable and renewable end-of-life streams.

“Brands, big and small, are turning to botanical-and-food-waste dyes, which offer natural alternatives that support organic and zero-waste color strategies,” she said.

Bongrain said the global textile dyes market size reached $11.1 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $14 billion by 2027, with increased demand from the garment industry.

“Measuring and reducing CO2 output, water usage, pollution, energy use and waste management is key,” she added. “Better chemistry and industry standardization are supporting lower impact practices, but there is more work to be done to scale them. Scaling solutions is
crucial to create the biggest impact.”

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