Nike has just opened a waterfree dyeing facility featuring high-tech equipment to eliminate the use of water and process chemicals from fabric dyeing at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer Far Eastern New Century.
The company has named this sustainable innovation “ColorDry” to highlight the environmental benefits and colouring achieved with the technology.
On average, an estimated 100-150 liters of water is needed to process one kg of textiles today. Industry analysts estimate that more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015.
Nike's Chief Operating Officer, Eric Sprunk, believes that as businesses recognise the need to reduce dependence on constrained resources, manufacturing innovation can play a key role.
“Nike innovates not only in the design of our products but also in how they are made. We see sustainability and business growth as complementary and our strategy is to prioritise relationships with factory groups that demonstrate a desire to invest in sustainable practices and technologies,” said Sprunk.
Initial indications from Far Eastern New Century (FENC) show the ColorDry process is both more efficient and more consistent than traditional, resource-intensive dyeing methods.
“Compared to traditional dyeing methods, the ColorDry process reduces dyeing time by 40%, energy use by around 60% and the required factory footprint by a quarter. It’s also the most saturated, intense and consistent color we’ve seen,” said Kuenlin Ho, Exec. Vice President at FENC.
In February 2012 Nike had taken a strategic stake in Dutch start-up, DyeCoo Textile Systems, a company that invented a technology to replace water, normally used for dyeing, with recyclable CO2, reducing energy use and eliminating the need for added chemicals in the process.
DyeCoo will soon open an office in Taiwan to service increasing demand for its technology.
Nike ColorDry products are expected to enter the market from early 2014.