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DuPont, Huntsman Cotton Processing Technology Cuts Water, Chemical Use

DuPontDuPont Industrial Biosciences, in collaboration with Huntsman Corporation, says a six-year study of its enzymatic bleaching technology shows reductions in water use, energy consumption and chemical use coupled with increases in product quality and yield.

Portugal’s Acabamentos Têxteis de Barcelos (ATB), the nation’s leading knitwear dyeing and finishing specialist and one of the largest textile mills in Europe, introduced DuPont’s PrimaGreen EcoWhite technology to its facility with the goal of increasing performance while using fewer resources.

The case study says it worked. Between 2006 and 2012, ATB:

  • Measured an increase in production of 3,380 tons in 2006 to 4,409 tons in 2012.
  • Measured a reduction in water usage of 55 cubic meters of water per ton of fabric produced.
  • Measured a reduction in use of chemicals per ton of fabric produced: .55 in 2012 as opposed to .74 in 2006.

Conventional cotton bleaching techniques require a high temperature and large amounts of caustic chemical additives to modify and neutralize the pH range. To increase sales and profitability and reduce environmental impacts, ATB says it could not simply expand operations using traditional methods. Because of this, the company says it chose DuPont and Huntsman’s enzyme-based bleaching system. This technology allows for low-temperature bleaching of textiles at 65 degrees Celsius in a neutral pH range with less water and energy consumed.

In its other greener chemistry efforts, DuPont Tate & Lyle sells Zemea, an anti-microbial ingredient made from corn starch, which can replace petroleum-based glycols and glycerin in cosmetics, according to Cosmetics Design Europe.

However, DuPont and other chemical companies such as Dow Chemical and BASF say California’s Safer Consumer Products initiative, which went into effect on Oct. 1, will produce at most a “marginal improvement in human health and environmental safety,” but at great cost to business, and risk creating undue customer alarm.

Under California’s new rules, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will develop a list of products, called “priority products,” that contain one of hundreds of toxic chemicals included on the list. Regulators will ask manufacturers of priority products to evaluate the design of these products and to replace these chemicals with safer alternatives if feasible.

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