News Feature | July 15, 2014

Waterless Textile-Dyeing Technologies Reduce Toxic Pollution

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


A notorious hazard to clean waterways, fabric dyeing processes may become less pollutive thanks to emerging technology. 

"Though the industry has traditionally polluted trillions of liters of clean water, companies have invented new machinery designed to dye clothing while using little to no water. If implemented on a global scale, this waterless technology could keep public waterways clean and free of chemicals," Care2, an activism website, reported in a commentary.  

Exactly how destructive is textile-dyeing? The journal Yale Environment 360 provided some insight. 

"One of the world’s most polluting industries is the textile-dyeing sector, which in China and other Asian nations releases trillions of liters of chemically tainted wastewater. Each year, one global industry gulps down trillions of liters of fresh water, together with massive amounts of chemicals. The wastewater from that industry is then dumped, often untreated, into rivers that bring its toxic content to the sea, where it spreads around the globe," the report said. 

This industry has one of the "largest water footprints on the plant," The Guardian reported.

But new technology may slow the destruction. "In recent years, three companies have each developed a largely waterless dyeing technology. Two are American enterprises — AirDye and ColorZen — and the third is a Dutch company, DyeCoo, whose process is being used by Adidas, one of its partners," the Yale report said. 

The good news is that the three technologies have consistent results. 

"The use of water is cut to near-zero, sharply diminishing pollution. The quantity of chemicals is drastically reduced, while faster dyeing cycles lead to a major drop in energy consumption," the report said.

But there's a caveat. 

"Despite these benefits, major questions remain as to whether these new technologies will be able to turn the tide in the struggle to reduce pollution in the textile industry. Water has been used to dye fabric for centuries, and textile firms have generally been reluctant to embrace change," the report said.

The technology is also expensive to install and cannot treat all types of clothing. 

Check out Water Online's Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solution Center.

Image credit: "Fabric dyeing - Monday evening," scrappy annie © 2008, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license:

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