Nike explores ‘waterless dyeing’ to eliminate water use

Sportswear giant Nike has unveiled plans to implement pioneering 'waterless dyeing' technology in its manufacturing, in bid to eliminate its use of its water and reduce the risk of effluent discharge.

Working in a strategic partnership with Netherlands-based DyeCoo Textiles Systems, which developed the waterless textile dyeing technology, Nike said it had been exploring the process for the past eight years, as part of its overall sustainable business and innovation strategy.

The supercritical fluid carbon dioxide technology system works by recycling carbon dioxide – therefore eliminating the need for water in the textile dyeing process.

As a result, Nike has claimed the technology will enable it to stop using water altogether, including gallons on polluted water from local waterways near its Asian plants where most of its dyeing operations are based, as well as radically cutting its energy use.

Nike vice president of merchandising and product Eric Sprunk, said: “Waterless dyeing is a significant step in our journey to serve both the athlete and the planet, and this partnership reinforces Nike’s long-term strategy and deep commitment to innovation and sustainability,

“We believe this technology has the potential to revolutionize textile manufacturing, and we want to collaborate with progressive dye houses, textile manufacturers and consumer apparel brands to scale this technology and push it throughout the industry.”

Nike said it is planning on showcasing textile product dyed without water at events later this year, with a view towards scaling the technology for larger production volumes.

DyeCoo ceo Reinier Mommaal said the benefits and impacts of the technology are “significant”, as there is “no water consumption, a reduction in energy use, no auxiliary chemicals required, no need for drying, and the process is twice as fast”.

He added: “The technology can also improve the quality of the dyed fabric, allows for greater control over the dyeing process, enables new dye capabilities and transforms fabric dyeing so that it can take place just about anywhere.”

It is estimated that on average conventional textile dyeing uses 100-150 litres of water to process one kg of textile materials each day. Industry analysts estimate that more than 39m tonnes of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015.

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie