The world’s most polluting industries is the textile-dyeing sector, which in China and other Asian nations discharges 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.
A notorious hazard to clean waterways, fabric dyeing processes may become less pollutive due to emerging technology. The 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.
If implemented on a global scale, this waterless technology could keep public waterways clean and free of chemicals. 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. But there's a caveat that the technology is expensive to install and cannot treat all types of clothing.
As water has been used to dye fabric for centuries, and textile firms have generally been reluctant to embrace change. But, 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.
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