Apparel companies have a new environmentally-conscious option for dyeing cotton.
Cotton Incorporated, the research and promotion company for cotton, and Swiss color and specialty chemicals firm Archroma have linked up to create dye derived from cotton byproducts. The companies claim it’s the first time in modern textile history that a fabric has been created and colored using a single plant source.
Produced using Archroma’s patented EarthColors technology, which creates sulfur-based dyes designed for use on cellulosic fibers, this new option addresses two key concerns of the textile industry: sustainability and traceability.
“As soon as we heard about the EarthColors technology, we wanted to explore the possibilities of cotton as a natural dye source,” Mary Ankeny, senior director of textile chemistry research at Cotton Inc., said Monday. “Byproducts of cotton harvesting and ginning have been utilized within the food and construction industries for decades, but we were intrigued by the idea of using cotton biomass to dye cotton fiber.”
“Archroma strives to challenge the status quo, and our EarthColors technology demonstrates our dedication to support and inspire sustainable fashion with warm colors that can be traced from the field to the shop,” said Nuria Estape, Archroma’s head of textile specialties and global marketing and promotion.
Each batch of EarthColors dye comes with a hangtag featuring a Near Field Communication chip, containing data that explains the manufacturing process of the dye and where the natural materials were sourced. This data can be accessed by Archroma customers and consumers alike through a smartphone.
Similarly, each bale of cotton grown in the United States receives a bale identification tag, allowing cotton businesses to trace its journey all the way back to where the cotton was ginned. The tag also includes information on the fiber characteristics for the cotton contained in the bale, which allows for efficient inventory management by merchants and mills.
Fabric samples dyed with the cotton-derived dye and produced at Cotton Inc.’s labs and at the Cone White Oak factory in Greensboro, North Carolina, will be on show at Premiere Vision in Paris on Sept. 12-14.