Nike announced today it has entered a strategic partnership with DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., a Netherlands-based company that has developed and built the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines.
Details of the partnership -- such as the amount of textiles that Nike will convert from water-dyeing to the waterless technology as well as the pace of that conversion -- have yet to be determined.
But the potential impact of the world's largest sporting goods company adopting waterless dyeing process is huge.
Last year, Nike was among several apparel companies that entered an agreement with Greenpeace to end textile-dyeing practices that have been blamed for endangering water supplies worldwide, especially in China and the rest of Asia.
Conventional textile dyeing requires substantial amounts of water. On average, an estimated 100-150 liters of water is needed to process one kg of textile materials.
Industry analysts estimate that more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015. At present, DyeCoo's technology is limited to dying polyester, though research is underway to add cotton and other natural and synthetic products to the waterless mix, Eric Sprunk, Nike's vice president of merchandising and product., said in an interview with The Oregonian.
The preindustrial method of linen production hasn`t changed in centuries. Though over the last hundred years we`ve developed machines that complete the task of harvesting, retting and dressing flax, these processes damage the delicate fibres such that finest linens are still manufactured almost entirely by hand. Because the process is still so laborious, even mechanised production actually requires a great deal more handwork than other mass industrially-produced textiles like cotton and rayon.
This is how the process looks like today :
PLANTINGPlanted between March 15th and April 15th, the seed takes 100 days to grow and reach 1 meter when it flowers.FLOWERINGJune - though the Linen flower only lives a few hours atop its supple stem, all flowers in a field do not bloom on the same day; This is what gives the landscape a delicate blue-ish colour for a few weeks, moving like an Impressionist sea in the wind.
RETTINGSCUTCHINGThe second phase for mechanically transforming the plant into fibres: to use the linen fibres which surround the central wood like skin, it is necessary to separate them. Scutching, a specialised mechanical process, includes shelling, stretching, grinding and treshing. The sunny, sensual fragrances of cut grass and warm bread float in the air.COMBINGCombing is the preparation for spinning, a homogenization of fibres into soft, lustrous ribbons like blond hair.
Untangle, regularised, stretch, thread fibres. The metric number (Mn) corresponds to the number of kilometres of yarn, made out of 1 kilogram of fibre. The higher the figure, the thinner the yarn.
WEAVINGWeaving is the process in which the flax threads are interlaced to form the linen fabric. On a loom, or frame, the length-wise threads known as the warp are fixed under tension while another thread is woven through the warp which is called the weft. The warp threads are separated and the weft is carried through them on a shuttle. Linen can be developed in serge, herringbone, glen plaids, double-weaves, velvet, floating yarns, gauze, satin...
Water; we can’t live without it, and thankfully much of the Earth is made up of it. Yet we face major problems where the life-sustaining liquid is concerned. While there is technically enough freshwater available for all 6.8 billion of us, one-fifth of the world’s population live in areas of physical water scarcity. Vast improvements in infrastructure are required in order provide freshwater to areas which remain without, but also to ensure continued access in the face of widespread pollution, wastage and drought.
In the near future, humanity will be challenged by the converging trends of energy depletion and climate change. It will be necessary for us to transition into a culture that consumes drastically less, and to shift away from the paradigm of perpetual material growth.