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Trending: Aquafil-H&M Collaboration, Cotton Dyeing Process Making Textiles More ‘Effective’

Image credit: Aquafil

This year, the world’s largest event on sustainability in fashion, the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, included an Innovation Competition that saw 12 finalists pitch their technologies onstage in front of a panel of expert judges and Summit attendees. After a series of presentations and judging sessions over the two day event, the winner was announced: ColorZen.

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ColorZen applies a patented pre-treatment to cotton fiber that changes the charge of cotton to positive so that dye quickly locks into place, allowing the cotton to absorb far more dye during the dyeing process, and eliminating the need for the toxic chemicals that otherwise are required in traditional dyebaths and often result in water pollution. The proprietary technology allows the dyeing process of a cotton garment to require up to 95 percent fewer chemicals, 90 percent less water, 50 percent less dye, and zero salt.

Contestants were judged on the importance of the problem they are trying to solve; what innovative approach they have taken to address the problem; the impact to date of their solution; and the potential future impact of the innovation. The judging panel consisted of sustainable fashion experts such as Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M; Leslie Johnston, Executive Director at C&A Foundation; and Katrin Ley, Managing Director of Fashion for Good.

Meanwhile, a new collaboration called Project EFFECTIVE has been launched to drive commercial use of more sustainable fibers and plastics in the textiles industry. 12 companies across the value chain - including brands such as H&M, Carvico, Vaude and Balsan – will work to produce materials from renewable feedstocks and bio-based technologies rather than oil and gas, supported by a multi-million euro grant.

“This consortium is an important step toward a more circular economy,” said Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aquafil. “Together we will drive new waves of healthy industrialization, economic growth, and greater sustainability – better than we can individually.”

Led by Aquafil and Genomatica, one of Project EFFECTIVE’s key objectives will be to develop a more sustainable nylon, made from bio-based caprolactam produced using renewable feedstocks. Germany’s Südzucker will supply these feedstocks, Genomatica’s bio-based chemical technology will process them, and Aquafil will create its bio-nylon-6 from the resulting material.

The early involvement of consumer brands will allow them to contribute valuable customer- and industry-driven perspectives to validate the fibers for use in apparel and carpet textiles. In the process, brands will gain a better understanding of what monomers, polymers and sustainability initiatives are commercially available, enabling them to develop more effective plans with suppliers regarding bio-based ingredients and materials.

The nylon-focused part of Project EFFECTIVE. | Image credit: Genomatica

Italy’s Novamont and Life Cycle Engineering, Spain’s Fundación CIRCE, Slovenia’s Circular Change, and Croatia’s Bio-Mi round out the participants with their expertise in conversion technologies, production, recycling, reuse, and biodegradability.

This broad participation is expected to facilitate faster adoption and deployment of new technologies and products, along with both economic and sustainability benefits.

“More renewables in product value chains means more impact,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “More and more manufacturers and brands get it; more and more are taking action. We look forward to rapidly expanding the circle of action.”

The project, which will officially start in June, has received a 7.1 million euro grant as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. As it develops and grows, Project EFFECTIVE intends to enable the use of bio-based ingredients in widely-used consumer products across additional markets, such as construction, automotive and packaging, as well as demonstrate improved ways of recycling or biodegrading materials.

Project EFFECTIVE includes 12 organizations from eight countries across the textile value chain. Participants include providers of renewable feedstocks and conversion technologies, makers of intermediate and finished products, major consumer brands and recycling/reuse organizations. | Image credit: Genomatica

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