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Nike Opens Waterless Dyeing Factory in Taiwan

Nike, Inc. has made another move toward its “manufacturing revolution” with the introduction of its first waterless dyeing factory in Taiwan.

The athletic company announced the dyehouse opening yesterday, saying the innovative process, dubbed ColorDry, eliminates water usage and process chemicals from fabric dyeing at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer Far Eastern New Century Corp (FENC).

This factory opening follows Nike’s announcement in February that it would partner with Netherlands-based DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., the company that developed the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines, which will be used in the new factory. The DyeCoo technology replaces water normally used for dyeing with recyclable CO2, reducing both energy and chemical use.

Conventional dyeing processes require an estimated 100-150 liters of water to process one kg of textiles, and industry analysts estimate more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed in 2015, according to Nike.

FENC executive vice president, Kuenlin Ho said, “Compared to traditional dyeing methods, the ColorDry process reduces dyeing time by 40%, energy use by around 60% and the required factory footprint by a quarter. It’s also the most saturated, intense and consistent color we’ve seen.”

As more and more brands make moves toward sustainable supply chain practices, scouting ways to reduce water usage has become a new best practice in an industry where millions of pounds of textiles are dyed each year and the requisite runoff from dye wastewater accounts for one-fifth of the world’s water pollution, according to The World Bank.

Nike noted plans to push the ColorDry technology throughout the industry, and the FENC factory is a step toward what the company sees as essential to reducing dependence on constrained resources.

Nike ColorDry products will hit the market in early 2014.