The fashion and textile industries are among the biggest polluters on the planet, creating 3% of global CO2 emissions and being the second leading cause of water pollution in the world.
Leader in disruptive technologies Alchemy Technology is ready to change the industry, reducing waste water, energy and carbon emissions during the dyeing and finishing processes, as well as reducing operating costs throughout the supply chain . The company recently joined the D(R)YE Factory of the Future project, launched by Fashion For Good to accelerate the shift from wet to dry processing in the textile supply chain. The project brought together several innovations in the pretreatment and coloring of textiles with the aim of reducing emissions and reducing water consumption.
Right here, Doctor Alan Huddfounder of Alchemie Technology, explains why it is extremely important to reduce emissions from the fashion and textile supply chain.
When people think of sustainability and corporate responsibility in the fashion world, their immediate thought is probably sweatshops. The collapse of the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh in 2013 still hangs in our minds. The other topic we hear a lot about is recycling and the efforts brands are making to counter the increase in global clothing production and consumption.
What isn’t talked about enough is the environmental impact of traditional dyeing processes that color all of our clothes, including the ones you’re probably wearing right now. The fashion industry as a whole uses enormous amounts of energy and water (about 93 billion cubic meters per year) and generates up to 10% of global CO2 emissions.
In the fashion and textile sector, the worst contributor to climate change is dyeing and finishing – the processes by which color and other chemicals are applied to fabrics, using chemical baths. These are some of the most polluting industrial processes in the world.
Textile dyeing and finishing are responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions (expected to increase to over 10% by 2050). That’s more than the CO2 produced by shipping and aviation combined. It is also the source of more than 20% of the world’s water pollution.
Wastewater ends up in rivers and the sea, especially in countries that still dominate dyeing like China, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia. It can also be a dangerous industry. In early January, six workers at a dye factory in India were killed after inhaling toxic gases caused by an illegal chemical waste dump.
At the same time, our global passion for fashion and clothing continues to grow. Clothing consumption is expected to grow 63% to 102 million tons per year in 2030, according to a 2017 Pulse of the Fashion report. 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, the textile industry must drastically reduce its energy and water consumption.
The good news is that the textile and fashion industry is the one that can reduce its CO2 emissions at the fastest speed and make a huge contribution to the fight against climate change.
In 2014, I made my own promise: to apply my experience in industrial inkjet printing to textiles and deliver sustainable dyeing solutions that would transform an industry to reduce its impact on the climate; Alchemie Technology was founded in Cambridge with this great idea.
A few years later, our Endeavor digital dyeing machine, which produces no waste water and reduces energy consumption by 85% compared to traditional dyeing, is now in production.
This month we are shipping a machine to Taiwan, where it will form the centerpiece of a new Alchemie demonstration and exhibition center in Asia so that textile producers across the region can see the technology in action. We hope this will start a sustainable dye revolution and encourage more brands and manufacturers to join us.
Countries that are centers of traditional dyeing are also beginning to take environmental issues seriously. In Bangladesh, the government is introducing legislation requiring factories to install water treatment plants. China too has harshly criticized polluting textile factories.
However, no country or company can drive change alone. All players in the textile supply chain, including brands and manufacturers, must work together to move from wet to dry dyeing.
The real change will be driven by consumers and brands demanding that clothes be produced in less harmful ways. It also requires the support of governments through investments, subsidies and legislation to complete the shift towards sustainable dyeing.
Only then can we change the color of our clothes to green, for the benefit of the planet and for future generations.