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Wrangler Adopts New Foam-Dyeing Technology to Save Billions of Liters of Water

Indigo Mill Designs (IMD) debuted a foam-dyeing technology, IndigoZero, for denim at the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute of Texas Tech University Tuesday. Denim brands served as early investors for the technology, including Wrangler, Lee and the Walmart Foundation.

IndigoZero purports to reduce overall water and energy usage by more than 90 percent. The foam-dyeing process is also designed to reduce chemical usage while producing equal, or even better, dye quality compared to the typical dye processes. The new technology allows mills to make smaller quantities than the traditional dyeing processes, allowing for waste reduction and smaller fabric runs.

Though both sustainable and cost effective, it was previously difficult to implement for denim because when exposed to oxygen in the air, the dye would affect the classic blue color.

“A large fabric mill uses millions of gallons of water every day to dye denim,” said Sudhakar Puvvada, who leads denim innovation work for Wrangler and Lee’s Global Innovation Center and served as an advisor to IMD. “IMD’s innovation can greatly reduce that amount and cut the energy needed for dyeing and wastewater treatment.”

The technology will be first implemented by Wrangler and Lee suppliers in the U.S. and Mexico, and then rolled out to facilities around the world.

“Wrangler advanced the commercialization of this technology because we believe it has the potential to dramatically improve the environmental impact of our industry and help us achieve our brand goals for water conservation,” said Wrangler Brand President Tom Waldron.

Wrangler projects that if the technology is implemented only by Wrangler and Lee fabric suppliers in the Americas, 8 billion liters of water will be conserved annually, equalling the amount of water used by 70,000 Americans each year. Once adopted by Wrangler and Lee suppliers globally, the impact will more than double.