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DuPont Bio-Based Enzymes Cut Water Use in Cotton Production by 70%

Using DuPont’s bio-based enzymes as a replacement for traditional chemicals in cotton textile preparation can reduce water use by 70 percent and energy use by 27 percent, the company says.

A collaborative trial between DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Pacific Textiles Limited, a Hong Kong-based fabric manufacturer, used DuPont’s PrimaGreen biodegradable enzymes as an alternative to caustic chemicals. DuPont Industrial Biosciences Vice President John P. Ranieri says the trial with Pacific Textile confirmed the results from an earlier lab study DuPont conducted with industry group Cotton Incorporated that was released in May.

The Cotton Incorporated study found that, in addition to cutting water and energy use, the bio-based enzymes reduced steam by 33 percent, and total production time by 27 percent. In this trial, the cotton knits produced showed good whiteness values, mote removal, maintenance of fabric strength and weight, and were receptive to dark, medium and light dye shades.

The PrimaGreen enzymes help save energy by allowing textile preparation to occur at much lower temperatures, according to the company. DuPont’s bio-enzymes also save water volume by enabling the same water bath to be used for multiple steps in the production process.

DuPont, which says it was one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals more than 20 years ago, was one of the 27 percent of companies assessed that made the connection between climate change and water risk in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2009, according to a report from Ceres.

In March, green business alliance the Global Environmental Management Initiative — of which DuPont is a member — launched free sustainable water management tools. The GEMI Local Water Tool and the GEMI LWT for Oil and Gas aim to provide best practices and water risk assessment for sustainable water management at the global, regional, national and local levels, GEMI says.

Earlier this year, DuPont and seven other companies announced they have met the goals of an EPA-backed program aimed at reducing the emissions from, and use of, long-chain perfluorinated chemicals.

The EPA’s voluntary 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program’s intermediate goal was for a 95 percent reduction in global emissions and product content by 2010. All eight participating companies informed EPA that they are on track to phase out LCPFCs by the end of 2015.

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