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Stepchange Innovations blog covering innovations and issues of the textile industry

Enzymes – an eco-friendly alternative for the textile industry?

With the increasingly important requirement for textile manufacturers to reduce pollution in textile production, the use of enzymes in the chemical processing of fibers and textiles is rapidly gaining wider recognition. Enzymes are non-toxic and eco-friendly. They can be safely used in a wide selection of textile processes such as de-sizing, scouring, bleaching, dyeing and finishing, where the traditional alternatives are very harsh chemicals whose disposal into the environment causes many problems. The article gives an introduction to enzyme technology.
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Finally the digital revolution in textile ink jet printing has started

Digital (ink jet) printing combines many advantages: easy coloration, direct printing off the computer screen, no screens, no colour kitchen, and attractive designs. Due to latest advances in printing speed technology a significantly accelerated growth of the technology is expected. The article outlines the drivers in this exiting market.
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The risks and alternatives of APEO and NPEO in textiles part 2

The second part of this article series gives information about alternative products, global regulations and environmental advantages, after the ban of APEO in Europe. Moreover, the results of the Greenpeace research about nonylphenol ethoxylate residues in textiles are discussed opposite the joined efforts of the ZDHC project.
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The risks and alternatives of APEO and NPEO in textiles part 1

The environmental activist group Greenpeace runs the Detox campaign requesting from international fashion brands to eliminate alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs) from their supply chain. In response to the Detox campaign, a group of international retailers has established a roadmap for “zero discharge of hazardous chemicals” (ZDHC) which has the aim of eliminating 11 substance groups between 2013 and 2020. At the present time, strong focus in the ZDHC programme is put on APEOs (alkylphenols and their ethoxylates), in particular on NPEOs (Nonophenol ethoxylates). This report will show the use, the risks and alternatives of APEOs.
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Technical background of water and soil repellent finishing on textiles

Perfluorinated fluorocarbon (PFC) polymers provide the best performance for water and oil repellent finishing on textiles, but there are serious concerns regarding their environmental and toxic properties. In this article we discuss the technical and scientific background of water and oil repellent finishing on textiles, and will look into options for future, more sustainable technologies and chemical solutions.
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Jeans bleaching – advantages and risks of different bleaching processes – part 3

The last part of the article series compares the different methods in jeans bleaching, which have been elaborated in detail in part 2, and summarize their advantages and disadvantages. The used chemicals in each of the processes are assessed against ecological criteria, especially considering the targets the ZDHC program, in order to find processes with low environmental impact. The target is to select processes which have a good price/performance level and a, good reproducibility, while using environmentally friendly chemicals, or avoid the use of chemicals.
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Jeans bleaching – advantages and risks of different bleaching processes – part 2

In this part different jeans bleaching processes are discussed, their benefits and features as well as their problems. The study is looking at chemical and mechanical treatments for open-pocket machines for fabrics and single garments. The methods discussed include bleaching processes using hypochlorite, permanganate, hydrogen peroxide, organic peroxides, laccase, ozone, glucose, sandblasting, electrochemical and laser engraving
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Greenpeace puts pressure on outdoor brands to phase out fluorocarbon chemistry

Greenpeace increases the pressure on leading retail brands. The environmental pressure group revealed data on hazardous fluorocarbons, PFOA, PFOS and others, tested on outdoor textiles from leading brands. We had a closer look at the report and discuss the issue in light of the progress in the ZDHC programme.
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