Dying to Dye Textiles: part 2 of 3

Having looked at the issues of pollution and waste.  Now we will look at what the industry is doing to address these.

One way to reduce pollution is a closed loop system, where the excess dye and chemicals are recovered from the water and reused.  This allows for the water that is discharged to be clean.  This is often seen in Europe where there are laws to prevent pollution.

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals) is the European legislation made law in the UK in 2007 that ‘aims to reduce the use of (and risk from) hazardous chemicals.’  This means that all European textile production must comply to this legislation, so we can be sure that textiles produced here are safe and waterways have not been polluted.  This is good news, if you buy a garment which the manufacturer tells you the yarn was spun and dyed (as yarn or fabric) in Europe, you will be safe.  Although Europe has legislation preventing textiles being imported that have nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in them, still they get here, according to the Green Peace research.  We need to keep asking questions.  The whole industrial fashion process needs to be transparent, to enable us to make good choices for our own health and environment and that of the rest of the world.

China introduced the ‘Water Ten Plan‘ in 2015 to deal with the water pollution issues, among the industries targeted are Textile Dyeing and Dye Production.  The plan calls for technological upgrades and reduction in pollution in an attempt to reverse the damage to water courses.

There are innovations such as drydye which uses carbon dioxide instead of water to dye polyester.  CO2 is naturally occurring, does not release volatile organic compounds , is biodegradable as a nutrient for plants and it is low cost.  Without the use of surfactants, saving anything from 50 to 100 litres of water per kilo of fabric.


DyeCoo are using the same CO2 process.

dye coo

Next time you go to buy a garment, think about it, where has it come from?  Is it likely to be harbouring chemicals that are bad for you, or your children?  Go on the company’s web site and ask questions.  It is the only way we are going to get companies to think about these things, if we don’t ask, they don’t know that we care.

Next month we will look at alternatives on a more local level, what is happening in the UK industry and what we can do at home.


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