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This Week in Sustainable Textiles — Featuring Archroma, I:CO and Zero Waste Scotland

On Monday, Archroma, a global producer of textile dyes and specialty chemicals, launched a new range of products created from agricultural waste. In addition, the company is utilizing the latest in communications technology to enable transparency of the supply chain to consumers.

Archroma’s new EARTHCOLORS range of “biosynthetic” sulfur dyes for cotton and cellulose-based fabrics uses almond shells, saw palmetto, rosemary leaves, and other agriculture waste products that would otherwise be sent to landfill to provide rich red, brown and green colors to denim and casualwear. EARTHCOLORS also allows complete transparency into the dyes’ complete supply chain: Archroma says all information about individual batches of color will be printed on hang tags to be attached to each item of clothing. Each tag will feature a chip with the information (the mill that dyed the fabric, where the garment was laundered, the source of the raw materials, etc) on it, and that information can be accessed by the prospective buyer in the shop using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology incorporated into their smartphone. Archroma believes that this is the first time that NFC is being used in this way.

NFC is a relative of RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, which many retailers already use for tracking products. But Archroma says NFC is more sophisticated and more consumer-friendly, and it is hoping that it will provide shoppers with a more “involved” buying experience.

“Our aim is to give consumers a choice,” says Alan Cunningham, Archroma’s Head of Textiles Dyes Marketing. “We all should have the possibility to choose the fashion option with the least environmental impact and to be safe in the knowledge that there is substance behind what is claimed on the label. With EARTHCOLORS, we allow just that.”

Archroma says the new dyes, which have been four years in the making, have the same overall performance of its existing range of sulfur dyes made from conventional raw materials. The company describes this new development as a step-change in dyes manufacturing and coloration technology.

The EARTHCOLORS range is produced near Barcelona, Spain, with all raw materials sourced from within a radius of 500 km.


On Thursday, conscientious fashionistas in Los Angeles had the opportunity to swap their unwanted clothing, shoes and accessories at the Global Fashion Exchange’s (GFX) first US clothing swap. In partnership with global textile recycler I:CO, the GFX initiative at the Hollywood & Highland Central Courtyard was designed to promote sustainable consumption and empower consumers to take actions for a better environment while they renew their wardrobe. Attendees were able to walk the “recycled carpet” — made from discarded t-shirts and sweaters, just one example of how I:CO recycles textiles — and walk away with a stylish new addition to their closet, at no cost; to access the event, shoppers were required to contribute at least one clean, gently used garment for swapping.

The Global Fashion Exchange was founded by the Danish Fashion Institute in 2013, where it took place for the first time during Copenhagen Fashion Week.

Eva Kruse, CEO of the Danish Fashion Institute: “One of the simplest and most sustainable ways to give garments a longer life is by giving them a new owner. The fashion industry holds great opportunity to reach out to consumers and to affect change, and the Global Fashion Exchange will bring this to life for consumers.”

In 2015, the GFX will travel to New York City.


Also on Thursday, at the Scottish Textile Symposium at the Lighthouse in Glasgow, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) announced it will launch a new fund next month to enable Scottish fashion designers to create zero-waste, closed-loop clothing and apparel ranges.

According to ZWS, clothing contributes roughly five percent of the carbon footprint and between six and eight percent of the water footprint of all UK goods and services, as well as accounting for more than a million tons of wasted materials.

The organization says it hopes the Circular Economy Textile and Apparel Grant Fund will encourage Scottish designers to ‘lead the way in reducing textile waste’ by adopting sustainable design methods, such as zero-waste pattern design, designing clothes to be easily disassembled and repurposed, and using closed-loop textiles made from recycled materials.

Textile designers in Scotland will be able to apply for up to £5,000 each, and successful applicants will also receive mentoring from ‘an industry expert’.

ZWS Chief Executive Iain Gulland commented: “It’s incredibly exciting to see Scotland leading the conversation on sustainability in textiles. We have a really diverse and engaged mix of textile producers and clothing designers here in Scotland, and the funding we have announced will enable the industry to start testing out ways to make waste a thing of the past in textiles, and create a circular textile economy that sees fabric flow in a cycle of reuse and eliminate waste to landfill.”

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