From cradle to grave, everywhere you look along the textile production lifecycle there is waste. Unfortunately, due to economics that up until recently did not consider the societal and environmental externalities, we’ve been using wasteful processes to clothe our society. Today, these processes have become deeply ingrained within the textile industry, and we must work hard to transform and set the system on a sustainable path.
There are many scary statistics out there about just how wasteful the modern world is. Even if we just look at the post-consumer textile waste (PCTW), we find that:
- The waste generated annually in the United States has increased nearly ten-fold since the 1960s to exceed more than 34 billion pounds annually;
- 66% of the waste is sent to landfills;
- Only 15% is recycled;
Perhaps, one day a new ultra-conservationist religion will come to dominate our collective psyche, and everyone will be happy to live with a very utilitarian wardrobe. Until that day comes, we want to look at the waste that takes place in the area that we are most familiar with – textile coloration.
While textile coloration is just one step along the textile production lifecycle, it is a step that requires tremendous amounts of raw materials, water, and energy. In a perfect world, all the inputs should be accounted for and result in the outputs. There should be no loss of energy, water should be returned to its natural clean state, and all the raw materials should be accounted for, in other words nothing should have to be discarded. In this commentary, we take a closer look at waste within the textile coloration domain and what can be done about it.
Waste Associated with Traditional Textile Coloration Processes
- Clean Water In – Poison Out: traditional coloration techniques oftentimes use large quantities of toxic dyes in the process. This process involves soaking in oversaturated baths that are followed by washing off of the excess dye. The resulting wastewater is essentially toxic and must then be treated before being released out into the environment.
- Lots of High Energy: traditional coloration techniques require the heating of large amounts of dye baths in order to allow for the dye to be applied to the fabric. Walking around a traditional dye house you can feel the wasted energy in the heat that is surrounding you.
- Un-Recycleable Output: one unspoken side effect of traditional coloration techniques is that the resulting fabric will have gone through so much stress and strain during the dying process that it will end up losing much of its structural integrity. This makes it much harder or almost impossible for the fabric to ever truly be cycled back into the production cycle.
How to Save Water, Energy, and Limit Waste in the Textile Coloration Process
- Eliminate water baths that necessitate large quantities of water and the energy associated with heating the water to high temperatures. When it comes to NTX Cooltrans specifically, the use of water is cut by up to an incredible 90%. The quantity energy requirements are also drastically reduced.
- Apply very precise dye dosing rather than soaking in an oversaturated liquor. This saves the quantity of dye that is necessary but also ensures that the excessive dye wash off is minimal, eliminating waste water and associated waste water treatment facilities needed in traditional coloration processes.
- Don’t degrade the structural integrity of the fabric during the coloration process. By eliminating overstraining of the fabrics during coloration, the output material is able to last longer and has the potential to be given another life via recycling in the future.
Visit us at www.ntx.global to learn about our market ready solutions to help save energy & water usage as well as eliminate water waste in the realm of textile coloration.