Water conservation techniques, need of the hour for global denim players

Denim mills and chemical manufacturers have been consciously making efforts to find new water-saving dyes, waterless or near-waterless processes or manufacturing facilities equipped with technology to reduce water consumption. Levi Strauss & Co says they are only responsible for about a tenth of the water consumed in the entire lifecycle of a pair of jeans.

Nuria Estape, Head, marketing and promotion of textile specialties at Swiss chemical company Archroma, points out water scarcity is unfortunately already a harsh reality in some parts of the world. The most responsible brands and players in the textile industry fully acknowledge this reality and, under their leadership, impetus and initiatives, the entire industry is slowly but surely turning to more sustainable practices.

Levi’s created Water Less, a set of standards and tools that removed up to 96% of the resource from the denim finishing process. For instance, instead of using a lot of water and detergent to achieve a stonewashed look, Levi’s discovered how to get the same result using ozone gas. Patagonia reduced its reliance on the resource by 84% after swapping out synthetic indigo dye for low-impact alternatives that adhere more easily to cotton. Similarly, Eileen Fisher worked with its Los Angeles jeans factory to develop two new washes, Utility Blue and Indigo, that both use 62% less water than the brands most intensive wash.

Meanwhile mills and suppliers are also taking initiatives. In line with this, Mexico-based mill Global Denim recently launched a zero-discharge dyeing process called Ecolojean that uses less water and energy than conventional methods required to dye one pair of jeans.


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