Nike, Inc. today celebrated the opening of a water-free dyeing facility featuring high-tech equipment that will eliminate the use of water and process chemicals from fabric dyeing at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer, Far Eastern New Century Corp (FENC). Nike has named the innovative process “ColorDry” to highlight the environmental benefits and unprecedented coloring achieved with the technology.
On average, Nike says 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 COO Eric Sprunk believes that as businesses recognize the need to reduce dependence on constrained resources, manufacturing innovation can play a key role.
“NIKE, Inc. innovates not only in the design of our products, but also in how they are made,” Sprunk said. “We see sustainability and business growth as complementary and our strategy is to prioritize relationships with factory groups that demonstrate a desire to invest in sustainable practices and technologies. Our collaboration with Far Eastern and DyeCoo, to develop and scale the ColorDry process, is an important milestone on our path towards manufacturing innovation.”
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Nike says initial indications from 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 percent, energy use by around 60 percent and the required factory footprint by a quarter. It’s also the most saturated, intense and consistent color we’ve seen,” said Kuenlin Ho, Executive Vice President at FENC.
“NIKE, Inc.'s commitment as an investor and technical partner is unique in supporting DyeCoo to reach its true potential. IKEA also invested in DyeCoo and both companies have connected us with supply chain partners. I see enormous possibilities to reshape the dyeing industry and adjacent industries as we work together to expand the application of our technology beyond polyester,” said DyeCoo CTO Geert Woerlee.
Nike says consumers can expect to see ColorDry products in the marketplace in early 2014.
Nike has pioneered the advancement and industry-wide availability of sustainable textiles through a variety of partnerships and tools. Along with its work with DyeCoo, the sportswear giant began a partnership with bluesign technologies in March to broaden the supply of sustainable materials and chemistries for use in Nike products. With bluesign’s bluefinder tool, suppliers can access more sustainable textile preparations such as dye systems, detergents and other process chemicals, manage restricted substances and find opportunities to increase water and energy efficiency; and bluesign’s blueguide gives Nike access to over 30,000 materials produced using bluefinder-approved chemicals. And in July, Nike launched a tool that allowed designers around the world access to a similar resource — its MAKING app helps designers and product creators make informed decisions about the environmental impacts of the materials they choose by ranking textiles and other materials used in apparel based on four environmental impact areas: water, chemistry, energy and waste.