OI has started a new project partnership that aims to facilitate the adoption of sustainable practices in the textile production process. Together with bonprix we are participating in the Fashion For Good “Dyestuff Library” initiative, which focuses on encouraging the use of more sustainable dyestuffs.
The problem with synthetic dyes
Today, 90% of our clothing is synthetically dyed, but the production of these dyes requires potentially harmful chemicals, like acids, alkalis, and solvents, and high-temperature environments. The chemicals used and their byproducts can be toxic to humans and the environment, and the process generates large amounts of greenhouse gases.
Nowadays, many companies are trying to phase out harmful chemical processes and switch to natural and non-hazardous dyestuffs. This means using alternative dyes and pigments produced with plant material, microorganisms, algae, and recycled materials, but this is easier said than done. These dyestuffs have historically been overlooked by the fashion industry due to poor colour fastness performance, limited colour palette and higher prices than synthetic dyes.
Also, the lack of clarity on their performance and ability to scale make it difficult for the industry to switch to these environmentally friendly alternatives. So, how can we make sustainable dyes more commercially available and affordable in the industry?
“Fashion for Good”
Fashion for Good (FFG) is a global initiative for sustainable fashion innovation. FFG gives promising start-up innovators the expertise and access to funding they need in order to grow. It aims to inspire change and drive solutions regarding sustainability and circularity in all areas of the textile supply chain to make fashion a force for good. Select start-ups get a chance to carry out pilots with member companies.
The Otto Group is an FFG partner, as are several Group companies. OI is supporting the Fashion for Good “Dyestuff Library” Project as a project partner and sponsor. It will contain a digitally accessible consolidation of sustainable alternatives from which partners can select based on competitive performance and environmental metrics.
What we do
Over the course of a year, 15 selected dyestuff innovations will undergo lab and pilot trials. Extensive due diligence including toxicity testing and performance validation will be conducted. This is to make sure the dyestuff innovations are safe to use and comply with our own and customers’ high-quality standards.
We aim to achieve the following goals:
- Goal 1: Establish a sustainable dyestuff library with key performance metrics.
- Goal 2: Create a decision framework tool that will enable partners to choose the most suitable dyestuff for their requirements,
- Goal 3: Make commercialisation feasible.
The dyestuff library will provide information so that natural dyestuffs can be created at a lower base cost and can be used on an industrial scale. By using this library, the wet process units (i.e., dyeing and printing mills) can also find information about available natural dyes that can be used for different fabric qualities. In both of these ways the dyestuff library will help to promote the use of natural dyes.
The “Dyestuff Library” initiative started in January 2023. It is to be finalised for partners to use by the end of 2023. Fashion for Good will continue developing the library with additional innovators, materials, fabric constructions, testing methods, and innovative coloration machinery to enable innovation implementation in the fashion industry.