Leading fastening products company YKK has developed a new dyeing approach that reduces the amount of water used in the zipper dyeing process to almost zero. The newly developed dye process, called ECO-DYE, uses supercritical fluid dyeing (SFD) technology.
The low environmental impact process is part of the company’s environmental efforts at its Kurobe facility in Toyama, Japan, and its goal of contributing to a more sustainable society.
“Nowadays, when there is a strong demand to address environmental problems, strengthen chemicals managements etc. there is especially increased demand to protect worldwide water resources essential for human life and needed for industrial use. In the future the problem of water resources is expected to grow,” a company statement noted.
In the apparel industry in particular, known for its adverse affects on the environment, reducing water use and eliminating hazardous chemical discharge in waste water have become major concerns for brands working to be more sustainable and compliant in a market that demands it.
The technology uses carbon dioxide (CO2) as a dyeing medium, which makes it possible to reduce water usage to nearly zero and avoid wastewater. Dyeing is done using CO2 in its “superficial fluid” state, meaning temperature and pressure are controlled and the element has characteristics of both a gas and a liquid. The CO2 can also be collected and reused and the dye process does not require drying, which is expected to reduce energy use.
An accompanying infographic highlights the world’s water shortage problem and compares traditional zipper dyeing to the new, friendlier ECO-DYE process.
YKK is currently testing and further developing the ECO-DYE technology for mass production, but commercialization and an actual release date have yet to be set.