Peter Broom, Technical and Innovations Director of the award-winning Meryl Fabrics®, believes that the textile industry must do more to improve its eco and sustainability credentials.
In the first of two viewpoints, Peter looks at how new dyeing techniques can remove the damaging impact the sector has on the environment.
As consumers become more eco-aware they are increasingly calling for apparel which meets their environmental and sustainability demands. Indeed research shows that 31 percent of Gen X would buy more sustainable clothing if it was available.
What we, the textile industry, must understand is that we have accepted that change is needed if we are to be in tune with our customers who really do care about what happens to our planet.
The recent COP27 gathering has been a reminder that there is still much to be done to protect the planet and the sector mustn’t shy away from our role in both being the problem and the solution.
This is particularly important as the World Economic Forum says that the fashion industry and its supply chain are, after food and construction, the planet’s third-largest polluter.
It’s our responsibility to see how we can make changes and do things better. It must be more than simple greenwashing and means developing sustainable materials to offset the textile industry’s detrimental environmental effects.
We need to stand up and act before it is too late.
To do this we have to go back to basics.
Research from the environmental sustainability consultancy Quantis found that over 90% of the industry’s environmentally damaging emissions come from just four basic activities – dyeing and finishing; fabric preparation; yarn preparation; and fibre production.
Each process needs action to reduce the textile industry’s negative impact on the environment. Here at Meryl Fabrics®, the creation of Meryl EcoDye has made advances with dyeing and finishing.
It offers dope dyed fabrics a high-quality colouration and excellent fastness while making the dyeing process more environmentally friendly. With a one-step colourisation process, compared with the traditional two-step, it removes the need to produce white fabric and subsequent dyeing. We add a pigment to our yarn so that the colour becomes an inherent part of the fabric and guarantees the best colour and highest quality control with outstanding fastness to UV rays, washing abrasion, migration and ironing.
This has been tested in closed and open laundry circuits where garments can be washed a minimum of 300 times without losing colour or misshaping.
The dyeing and finishing process is also a major water polluter. The World Bank says that 17-20% of all water pollution comes from textile dyeing treatments so the advent of waterless dyeing reduces environmental harm.
When one tonne of fabric is estimated to use more than 200,000 litres of water and requires a dye discharge with the effluent into water systems, then the fact that Meryl EcoDye uses no water makes a colossal saving in water resources.
Meryl EcoDye’s environmental advantages are further strengthened as it has no heavy metals or additional chemicals, solvents or silicones to protect water sources further.
By using products like Meryl EcoDye, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of textile waste and stop the destruction currently being inflicted on the planet, while helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.
We can do this by standing up as an industry to say we can do things better and showing that eco-friendly and effective alternatives are available.
We must stop talking about doing something; we have an answer so let’s get on and do it.
In his next viewpoint, Peter looks at how the industry significantly reduces its use of one of the planet’s most important natural resources – water.