A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Nike Announces Strategic Partnership to Scale Waterless Dyeing Technology

March 05, 2012 | Comments (10)

A new partnership between Nike, Inc. and Netherlands-based DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., is poised to introduce a revolutionary technology to the sportswear world.

DyeCoo has developed and built the first commercially-available waterless textile dyeing machines. Remarkably, this industry-altering technology eliminates the use of water in the textile dyeing process by using recycled carbon dioxide—supercritical fluid carbon dioxide (SCF CO2 ) to be exact—to adhere coloring to cloth. After exploring this technology for the past eight years, Nike expects to showcase the new apparel at several events later in 2012.

Here are some facts and figures on the textile industry and what changes this growing technology will bring: (more…)

Seat Fabric in Ford Focus Electric Made From Used Plastic Water Bottles

December 26, 2011 | No Comments →

The new Ford Focus Electric features seat fabric made from REPREVE®, a polyester fiber derived from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including used plastic water bottles and post-industrial waste.

REPREVE is manufactured by Unifi, Inc, a global leader in sustainable textile solutions, and Ford is the first automakers to use this branded fiber for its seats. According to Ford, the seat fabric on each Focus Electric now includes the equivalent of more than 20 plastic bottles per car.

For years, Ford has been committed to finding a sustainable solution for textiles used in car production.

In 2009, the company mandated that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25 percent recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles.

Now, Ford is taking it a step further by mandating that fabric be 100 percent sustainable in vehicles with eco-conscious powertrains like Focus Electric.

REPREVE fits the bill. Unifi officials report that all told, 22 plastic, 16-ounce water bottles are used in the seat fabric of a single Focus Electric. (more…)

First-ever Life Cycle Inventory and Life Cycle Analysis for Cotton

September 28, 2011 | Comment (1)

Last week, Cotton Incorporated released a first-ever comprehensive life cycle inventory and life cycle analysis of cotton products.

The study, which took two years to complete, takes a holistic and comprehensive view, focusing solely on cotton (and not competitive fibers).

More specifically, the life cycle inventory (LCI) is a quantification of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental release data associated with the production of cotton from cradle-to-gate (fiber) and manufacturing from gate-to-gate (fabric).

The associated life cycle assessment (LCA) models the environmental impact of representative cotton apparel (a knit golf shirt and woven cotton trousers) from the field through to consumer care, use and disposal (cradle-to-grave).

Cotton Incorporated says the peer-reviewed data and assessment methodology will help direct sustainability research efforts for the cotton industry, as well as to aid textile decision-makers in achieving their own sustainability goals.

Data for the cradle-to-gate segment was collected from the three largest cotton producing countries (China, India, and the United States) and reported as a global average. Similarly, the data for the textile processing phase was culled from surveys among representative mills in the four largest textile processing areas (Turkey, India, China, and Latin America) and are also presented as a global average. Data for the cut-and-sew and consumer use phase were supplemented by a range of credible secondary sources.


Consumers Willing to Pay More for Sustainable Apparel if Businesses Are Transparent

September 02, 2011 | Comment (1)

Last week, I discussed how Nike and Puma have pledged to eliminate the release of all hazardous chemicals across their supply chains (and now adidas has made a similar commitment).

It’s too early to know what impact these new initiatives will have on manufacturing costs. But, if making sustainable apparel costs more and those costs are passed on to consumers, how will Nike, Puma and adidas customers react?  A new study from the University of Missouri offers some insights.

Gargi Bhaduri, a doctoral student, and Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor of textile and apparel management in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri, surveyed apparel consumers to find out if they were willing to pay a premium for products made using sustainable and ethical methods.

They found that consumers would be willing to pay 15 to 20 percent more for “eco-friendly” products. However, they also found that consumers were also likely to remain skeptical about apparel companies’ claims of transparency and sustainability.

Consumer skepticism of corporate transparency stems from the suspicion that sustainability claims are falsified or exaggerated by apparel companies for use as marketing ploys. In other words, greenwashing persists as a significant, and nagging, problem. Before they buy sustainable apparel, savvy consumers feel the need for assurances such as: (more…)

Nike and Puma Commit to Eliminate Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals

August 22, 2011 | No Comments →

Earlier this summer, Greenpeace challenged major clothing brands, including Nike, Puma and Adidas, to eliminate the release of all hazardous chemicals across their supply chains.

I’m very pleased to report that within the past month or so, both Nike and Puma have announced significant commitments to “detox.”

Nike, the world’s largest sportswear brand, announced last week that it will eliminate the releases of all hazardous chemicals across its entire supply chain and the entire life-cycle of its products by 2020. In addition, the company has agreed to full transparency about the chemicals being released from its suppliers’ factories and to work toward the widespread elimination of hazardous chemicals from the clothing industry. Nike has said that it will publish its implementation plan within eight weeks. From the company’s press release:

NIKE, Inc. is committed to the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

To make this a reality, NIKE, Inc. will continue phasing out hazardous chemicals in our supply chain and we will accelerate the phase out of the highest priority hazardous chemicals. NIKE, Inc. will continue to work with brands, material suppliers, the broader chemical industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to achieve this goal. We will drive towards innovative solutions for transparency in chemical management disclosure.

We recognize the path to reaching this goal must be through innovation, the application of green chemistry, and broad industry and regulatory collaboration and engagement. NIKE, Inc.’s commitment and investment towards this goal and the dedication to system change is unwavering.

We will work tirelessly to affect system change across the industry towards this goal. This commitment includes sustained investment in moving industry, government, science and technology to deliver on systemic change.

We commit to continue to share what we learn, our approaches and tools and work with others8 in finding new solutions and removing existing barriers, and to report progress towards comprehensive chemicals management.

Puma had already made a similar commitment: (more…)