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Ralph Lauren unveils scalable zero-wastewater cotton dyeing system

By Huw Hughes


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Ralph Lauren Corporation has launched Color on Demand, a “revolutionary” dyeing platform that aims to transform the way the fashion industry colors cotton.

The multi-phased system dyes cotton more sustainably, more effectively and faster than other methods, according to the brand, and aims to eventually deliver “the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system”.

The dyeing stage of garment production is one of the most damaging to the environment. Every year, trillions of litres of water are used for fabric dyeing alone, generating around 20 percent of the world’s wastewater, according to the company.

Color on Demand aims to tackle that issue by using a set of technologies to enable the recycling and reuse of all water from the dyeing process. As well as slashing water usage, the new system reduces the amount of chemicals, dye, time and energy used in the cotton dyeing process, according to Ralph Lauren.

Additionally, the system can color cotton at any point in product manufacturing, rather than at the outset, enabling significantly shorter lead times for making product color decisions. This is another industry first, the brand said.

By 2025, Ralph Lauren aims to use the Color on Demand platform in more than 80 percent of its solid cotton products.

“Traditional color dyeing is one of the most polluting practices in our industry, and as a global brand, we recognized the need to create a scalable solution,” said Halide Alagöz, the brand’s chief product and sustainability officer, in a release.

“Color on Demand significantly reduces the environmental impact of dyeing cotton, and as an added benefit, will enable us to better balance inventory and meet personalized consumer demands faster than ever before.”

Ralph Lauren linked up with four leading experts in different fields to create the new system. The company worked with materials science company Dow, sustainable garment and fabric finishing company Jeanologia, textile dyes and chemicals specialist Huntsman Textile Effects, and global technology leader in dispensing and mixing solutions, Corob.

As part of the first phase of Color on Demand, Ralph Lauren used Ecofast Pure Sustainable Textile Treatment, a pre-treatment solution developed by Dow for cotton textiles. When used with existing dyeing equipment, Oecofast Pure uses up to 40 percent less water, 85 percent fewer chemicals, 90 percent less energy and has a 60 percent reduction in carbon footprint compared to traditional cotton dyeing processes, according to Ralph Lauren.

Ralph Lauren is integrating this process into its supply chain and will launch products using this technology later this year.

Image: Ralph Lauren newsroom

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