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The Oldest Denim Mill In China Just Went Aniline-Free

Despite holding the title of oldest denim mill in China, Advance Denim is adopting one of Archroma’s newest innovations.

The mill, established in 1987, announced on Wednesday that it will launch a collection made with aniline-free indigo by Archroma, making it the first Chinese mill to do so.

Specialty chemicals company Archroma debuted its aniline-free Denisol Pure Indigo dye in May 2018 as a nontoxic way to produce the classic indigo coloring in denim. Since then, denim mills like Absolute Denim in Thailand and Tuong Long Co. in Vietnam have adopted the solution, which promises to perform exactly the same as conventional indigo.

“Advance Denim and Archroma are demonstrating, through action, how a traditional industry can transform and become sustainable while remaining profitable,” Amy Wang, Advance Denim’s managing director, said in a statement.

Though the industry’s perception of aniline is mixed—whether or not it causes health risks like cancer is inconclusive—the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies it as being “very toxic” to aquatic life and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noted that repeated contact can cause skin allergies and trigger symptoms of hypoxia, including headaches, dizziness, increased heart rate, breathlessness and unconsciousness.

The traditional indigo dyeing process makes it impossible to remove all aniline from the pigment. An estimated 300 metric tons of the substance is discharged during dyeing each year, putting factory workers, marine life and even those who wear it at risk.

Archroma produces Denisol Pure Indigo 30 dye in its facility in Pakistan, an award-winning “zero liquid discharge” plant.