Ralph Lauren to create the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system
Ralph Lauren Corporation has introduced Colour on Demand, a revolutionary dyeing platform that will transform how the fashion industry colours cotton – more sustainably, more effectively and faster than ever before. The Company has established Colour on Demand, a multi-phased system, with a clear ambition to deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system.
Every year, trillions of litres of water are used for fabric dyeing alone, generating around 20% of the world’s wastewater. This untreated wastewater is incredibly polluting and traditionally required rigorous, lengthy and costly treatment to make the water reusable.
Designed to help address water scarcity and pollution caused by cotton dyeing, Colour on Demand is a new system composed of a set of technologies that will enable the recycling and reuse of all water from the dyeing process, establishing the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system.
In addition to significant water savings, Colour on Demand dramatically reduces the number of chemicals, dye, time and energy used in the cotton dyeing process. Further, for the first time in the industry, Colour on Demand also provides a more efficient and sustainable way to colour cotton at any point in product manufacturing, rather than at the outset. This will enable significantly shorter lead times for making product colour decisions.
“Traditional colour dyeing is one of the most polluting practices in our industry, and as a global brand, we recognised the need to create a scalable solution,” said Halide Alagöz, Chief Product and Sustainability Officer at Ralph Lauren.
“Colour on Demand significantly reduces the environmental impact of dyeing cotton, and as an added benefit, will enable us to better balance inventory and meet personalised consumer demands faster than ever before.”
To implement its groundbreaking approach, Ralph Lauren brought together four leading innovators in their respective fields, including Dow, a leader in materials science; Jeanologia, a leader in sustainable solutions for garment and fabric finishing, with high expertise in garment dyeing and close loop water treatment systems; Huntsman Textile Effects, a global chemicals company specialising in textile dyes and chemicals; and Corob, a global technology leader in dispensing and mixing solutions, to reimagine each stage of the colouring process and join this shared mission to create a more sustainable and efficient system for cotton dyeing.
As part of the first phase of Colour on Demand, Ralph Lauren optimised the use of ECOFAST Pure Sustainable Textile Treatment, a pre-treatment solution developed by Dow for cotton textiles.
When used with existing dyeing equipment, ECOFAST Pure enables the use of up to 40% less water, 85% fewer chemicals, 90% less energy and a 60% reduction in carbon footprint compared to traditional cotton dyeing processes. Ralph Lauren is integrating this process into its supply chain and will launch a product using this technology later this year.
“Water scarcity and pollution are important issues for the fashion industry and through our partnership with Ralph Lauren we are working towards addressing these challenges,” said Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement at World Wildlife Fund.
“Technology has the ability to accelerate change at a scale that matters, so it’s exciting to see Ralph Lauren establishing innovative new models that transform outdated practices and can deliver measurable outcomes for people and the planet. This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to see from the fashion industry.”
Colour on Demand is yet another significant step in Ralph Lauren’s journey to address its environmental footprint, which includes eliminating hazardous chemical use in its supply chain and reducing water use across its operations and value chain by 2025. By 2025, Ralph Lauren aims to use the Colour on Demand platform in more than 80% of the Company’s solid cotton products.