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Archroma Taps CleanKore Technology for Safer Denim Bleaching

Two forces in the indigo dyeing process have come together in the name of sustainability.

Specialty chemicals company Archroma announced a new partnership with CleanKore, a patented technology that dyes yarn without the use of potassium permanganate (PP) spray. The technology allows mills to achieve a bright white abrasion effect using laser technology, making it safer for workers, and drastically reducing water and energy usage throughout the manufacturing process.

Though many in the industry have condemned the use of PP spray, this chemical treatment remains a popular alternative to sandblasting, a method for bleaching denim. In 2019, Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey released a report documenting PP spray’s harmful effects on workers, including serious skin and respiratory conditions such as byssinosis and silicosis.

By eliminating PP spray and developing a faster garment wash-down, CleanKore reports that its technology can save up to 15 liters of water and 0.51 kWh of energy per garment, and increase production throughput by 10 to 20 percent.

According to Umberto Devita, global indigo manager at the Archroma Global Competence Center for Denim and Casualwear, the partnership directly mirrors his company’s mission and aligns with the three pillars of “The Archroma Way to a Sustainable World” by being safe, efficient and enhanced.

It is a ‘safe’ technology because it eliminates potentially harmful substances and protects denim workers. It is ‘efficient’ because it reduces resource consumption, improves productivity and is cost-effective. And the “gorgeous color and effects” resulting from CleanKore’s technology are ‘enhanced’ by Archroma’s sustainable innovations like its aniline-free Denisol Pure Indigo and Diresul sulfur dyes.

“We look forward to help promoting an innovation that will help with many of the challenges facing our denim customers throughout the world. Because it’s our nature,” Devita said.

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As part of the partnership, Archroma’s coloration specialists will assist denim mills in implementing the CleanKore technology and developing different looks and effects with the right colors and chemical systems for their production setup. The technology works on all fabrics and doesn’t require new equipment or capital expenses for implementation.

The partnership fits in with Archroma’s aggressive targets for the future, which include increasing sustainable collections sales by 35 percent, cutting water intensity to 16.6 cubic meters per ton of production and reducing the amount of waste it generates by 25 percent by 2023. The company outlined these goals in a sustainability report published at the end of last year.