Ralph Lauren Just Launched the World’s First Zero Wastewater Cotton Dyeing System

Can Ralph Lauren’s new technology transform one of the fashion industry’s worst offenders?

Color on Demand is a novel, scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system developed by American fashion brand Ralph Lauren. According to the brand, fabric dyeing produces 20 percent of the world’s wastewater and uses trillions of liters of water in production.

“Traditional color dyeing is one of the most polluting practices in our industry and as a global brand, we recognized the need to create a scalable solution,” Halide Alagöz, chief product and sustainability officer at Ralph Lauren told WWD. “Color on Demand significantly reduces the environmental impact of dyeing cotton, and as an added benefit, will enable us to better balance inventory and meet personalized consumer demands faster than ever before.”

Ralph Lauren is aiming for 80 percent of its solid cotton dyed offerings to be made with the Color on Demand process by 2025.

Ralph Lauren Just Launched the World's First Zero Wastewater Cotton Dyeing System

Color on Demand

The Color on Demand system allows for recycling and reusing water from the dyeing process, Alagöz says. This is critical in addressing the world’s water scarcity and pollution resulting from cotton dyeing. It was developed in part with agrochemical giant Dow, which worked on the materials science.

“In the first phase of Color on Demand, Lauren optimized the use of EcoFast Pure Sustainable Textile Treatment, a pre-treatment solution developed by Dow for cotton textiles,” WWD explains. “When used with existing dyeing equipment, EcoFast Pure enables the use of up to 40 percent less water, 85 percent fewer chemicals, 90 percent less energy and a 60 percent reduction in carbon footprint compared to traditional cotton dyeing processes.”

Ralph Lauren is aiming to distribute the technology industry-wide to help reduce the number of chemicals used in cotton dyeing. It’s also a more efficient and sustainable way to color cotton, the brand says. Color on Demand moves the dyeing process option to any point in product manufacturing instead of at the beginning of the production cycle. This, Ralph Lauren says, will also decrease lead times.

The announcement comes after the fashion giant partnered with the World Wildlife Foundation last summer as part of its efforts to reduce water use by 20 percent by 2025. Ralph Lauren is also working to completely eliminate hazardous textile chemicals by 2025.

Color on Demand is part of Ralph Lauren’s broader sustainability goals, including limiting emissions as part of Paris Agreement targets. A member of the G7 Fashion Pact, Ralph Lauren is also working to restore biodiversity and protect the world’s oceans.

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