The process, which Nike has dubbed ColorDry, reduces dyeing time by 40 percent, energy use by about 60 percent and the required factory footprint by 25 percent compared to traditional methods, the company says. ColorDry products will be introduced to the marketplace in early 2014.
Conventional textile dyeing requires an estimated 100 to 150 liters of water to process 1 kg of textiles, according to Nike. Industry analysts estimate more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015.
Annual water use at Nike-owned and operated facilities totals 325 million gallons, according to previous estimates by the company. Textile mills use about 3 billion gallons of water a year to process cotton and polyester for Nike products, but these mills are not owned by Nike.
The Nike Water Program is currently tracking more than 60 billion gallons of water use, but only about a tenth of that figure is related to fabrics used to make Nike products.
The opening comes nearly a year after Nike took a strategic stake in DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., a Netherlands-based company that developed the technology to replace water, normally used for dyeing, with recyclable CO2, reducing energy use and ending the need for added chemicals. Ikea has also invested in DyeCoo.
Nike has said it expects DyeCoo’s supercritical fluid carbon dioxide, or “SCF” CO2 dyeing technology, to have a particularly positive impact in Asia, where much of the world’s textile dyeing occurs.
DyeCoo will soon open an office in Taiwan to meet increasing demand for the technology, Nike says.
In August 2012, Nike bowed to pressure from Greenpeace, promising to eliminate all hazardous chemicals across its entire supply chain and the entire life-cycle of its products, by 2020.
The world’s largest sportswear brand has also promised to use its influence, knowledge and experience to bring about “widespread elimination” of hazardous chemicals from the clothing industry, Greenpeace says.