The traditional indigo dyeing process has considerable room for improvement, especially given how manufacturers often use substantial amounts of chemicals, water and energy to infuse yarns with the pigment. Some of the chemicals used in the process, like sodium hydrosulfite, are even harmful to the environment and hazardous to health.
As part of its commitment to manufacturing sustainable denim in the safest manner possible, Advance Denim is introducing its newest dyeing innovation, BioBlue Indigo. After recently signing an exclusive agreement with BioBlue’s chemical supplier, Advance Denim is now the only denim mill that uses this technology.
BioBlue is a groundbreaking indigo dye method that puts indigo into reduction—a process that changes the indigo dyes from powder form to liquid form, makes the dyestuff soluble in water and improves the surface appearance of indigo-dyed yarn—without the use of sodium hydrosulfite. BioBlue uses proprietary FDA-approved chemistry that reduces harmful chemical values of wastewater after dyeing.
Sodium hydrosulfite, a reducing agent used in the traditional indigo dyeing process, can make the indigo dye soluble in water and also improve the surface appearance of indigo-dyed yarn. But while the powder-like substance is a very effective and powerful chemical that turns indigo into a dye-friendly form—it has dominated industrial dye processing since the advent of synthetic indigo—sodium hydrosulfite is not an eco-friendly chemical.
As its name suggests, sodium hydrosulfite has a very high salt content and salt is notoriously hard to remove from wastewater. Its high sulfate level also builds up in wastewater, which can release harmful gases. Sodium hydrosulfite is not only harmful to the environment, but it is a highly unstable flammable material that is very dangerous to transport. BioBlue is designed to be the stable, safe and eco-friendly replacement for sodium hydrosulfite.
The BioBlue release is the most recent of Advance Denim’s continued investments to achieve its sustainability goals. Over the past decade, the company has made major strides, reducing energy consumption per yard of fabric by 42 percent since 2013. Advance Denim applied energy-saving machine replacements and equipment upgrades, as it pivoted to investing further into more sustainable infrastructure.
In early 2018, Advance Denim implemented an aggressive strategic plan that examined all its processes and invested more in its systems. The manufacturer added a state-of-the-art emissions tracking system to ensure that its thermal power plant remains well ahead of national standards for air pollutants.
The denim manufacturer also invested in a new reverse osmosis recycling system that reduced water consumption by 58 percent and will be able to recycle 100 percent of the wastewater in the denim finishing process.
After making these new investments, the Advance Denim team examined its indigo dyeing system and determined it should reinvent the application of indigo altogether to make the process as sustainable as possible. Thus, the revolutionary Bigbox dyeing method was born in 2019. This process saves up to 98 percent of the water necessary to dye indigo, yet is designed to create the same deep shade consistent with traditional rope-dyed indigo.
Advance Denim will continue to invest in sustainability and clean innovations that change the way it produces denim, with BioBlue the latest enhancement within its Shunde, China production facility and Advance Sico facility in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The manufacturer announced that 90 percent of all fibers used in production will be sustainable by 2023.
In March 2021, Advance Denim made its most recent sustainability push by joining the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. As a member, Advance Denim can now provide its customers with confidence about the U.S. cotton in its sourcing mix. Advance Denim joins over 200 other mills and manufacturers as members of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.
Learn more about Advance Denim Limited here.