Candiani Denim this week launched a new dyeing technology designed to increase color penetration while reducing impact on waterways.
According to the Italian mill, N-Denim enhances dye permeation during the denim dyeing process, while also reducing water and chemical consumption. It offers a solution to traditional dyeing techniques, which are known for leaching pollutants into the surrounding ecology, compromising rivers, streams and other water sources.
“The dyeing process is one of the most harmful in the textile industry,” Candiani said in a statement. “The environmental impact of fashion on the water is killing many Asian rivers, the area where most of the global clothing production is located.”
Parliamentarians in the E.U. say the fashion industry is responsible for up to 20 percent of water pollution worldwide. Industrial wastewater from production facilities is frequently discharged into the environment without being properly filtered or cleaned, releasing pigments, salts and heavy metals capable of killing plants and animals. Garment dyeing uses more than 8,000 chemicals as well as 6 trillion liters of water annually.
These activities primarily impact communities in China and Bangladesh, where much of the global textile industry operates. The World Bank estimated that between 17 percent and 20 percent of industrial water pollution in China is the result of textile dyeing and other treatments. The effects of pollution haven’t just impacted biodiversity, but the human population—the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (PNAS) estimated that about 70 percent of the rivers and lakes in China have been rendered unsafe for people to use. It also determined that water pollution causes about 100,000 deaths and $1.46 trillion in economic losses each year.
Meanwhile, the world’s second-largest exporter of apparel has seen its own share of environmental decimation. The garment sector represents more than 80 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports, but that productivity has come at the cost of a number of waterways, including Dhaka’s Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Sitalakhya rivers, which have been characterized as severely polluted and unsafe by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers. Some rivers in the country have been declared “dead” because the quality of the water is inhospitable to plant and animal life.
With these conditions in mind, Candiani aims to see the denim industry transition to more water-conscious processes, including N-Denim. The N stands for nitrogen, which is employed to delay oxidation and allow dyes to penetrate yarn more deeply with greater pigmentation. The process creates longer-lasting denim with less fading, the mill said.
“This no-fade dyeing technique decreases the number of vats needed from seven to two, reducing water consumption by 50 percent,” it added. The process requires 33 percent less chemicals than standard practice, avoiding the use of hydrosulfites and fixation agents typically used during fabric production.
What’s more, the N-Denim range includes a number of intense and unconventional colors, Candiani said. “Since the dye penetrates deeper into the yarn, the colors of the fabrics dyed with N-Denim fade more slowly and after a greater number of domestic washes if compared to fabrics dyed with more traditional techniques,” boosting a denim garment’s longevity, it added.