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Archroma Develops Optical Brightening Agent for Water, Process Chemical Free Application

Archroma’s latest move in sustainable apparel dyeing could help the industry become easier on the environment.

The global specialty chemicals company has developed an optical brightening agent—Ultraphor KCB—to be used with DyeCoo Textile Systems’ chemical free and water free dyeing solution.

The agent is now being used in the process by Thailand-based Tong Siang Co. Ltd., to color its high-performance sportswear.  Textiles made using the process are marketed under the DryDye fabrics brand.

The DyeCoo process is based on carbon dioxide instead of water. The pressurized carbon dioxide enters a phase between a liquid and a gas, which has a high solvent power enabling the dye to dissolve, transport deeply into fibers and in the process, develop bright white and colorful shades. The technology is also eco-friendly, since 95 percent of the carbon dioxide is reclaimed and recycled into a closed-loop system, 100 percent pure dyes are used and no wastewater is released back into the environment.

“While humans have used water to dye fabrics for more than 2,000 years, today water is an increasingly scarce resource that needs to be conserved,” said Andrew McDonald, global head of business development at Synthetic & Wool, Archroma’s Brand & Performance Textile Specialties Business. “DyeCoo’s CO₂ dyeing process offers an important step forward.”

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Today, more textile manufacturers are working to meet the demands for more eco-friendly dyeing techniques and tapping into specialty chemical authorities, like Archroma, to make their apparel manufacturing processes more sustainable. Archroma offers a range of optical brightening agents (OBAs), including Ultraphor KCB, for man-made fibers, including polyester. As a high quality OBA made in Germany, Ultraphor KCB is the company’s first entry into the carbon dioxide dyeing field—and working with DyeCoo could help apparel companies provide functional and more sustainable products.

Archroma’s eco-friendly offering comes on the heels of its other environmental milestones. Last year, outdoor retailer Kathmandu selected Archroma’s EarthColors range of plant-based dyes to develop a new capsule collection. Additionally, the EarthColors range contains NFC technology, a chip that enables colors to be traced from source to shop.

And Archroma isn’t the only company helping brands improve their dyeing processes. Denim authority G-Star Raw recently partnered with Pakistan-based Artistic Milliners, color solutions provider DyStar and global denim manufacturer Saitex to debut the G-Star Elwood RFTPi jean, which G-Star said is its “most sustainable jeans ever.”

The jeans are made with Crystal Clear, a more sustainable indigo dyeing process that uses 70 percent less chemicals and doesn’t create salt by-product during the denim reduction and dyeing process. With this dyeing process, apparel companies can leave recyclable water effluent post-dyeing and not use natural resources.