We save 75% water over conventional wet process dyeing
We Are SpinDye is an ingredient brand that offers a technically innovative colour system for sustainable polyester yarns and fabrics in the fashion and apparel industry. The company's colouring process is certified and fully transparent, and delivers a clean, traceable colouring method with unparalleled performance. Chief executive officer Andreas Andrén converses about the working of the company's unique colouring system and its full transparency approach in a chat with Fibre2Fashion.
How was the We Are SpinDye proprietary process developed?
We Are SpinDye is a proprietary way of working; we like to talk about it almost like an operative system that enables apparel producing companies and brands to manage this fantastic water-saving technology. The philosophy around the operative system was developed while engaging with the best players in respective industry -- pigment and masterbatch production (Clariant), colour management (Natific), colour system (NCS Colour) and impact monitoring (Swerea/RIse).
Can you explain us the process in brief? What goes in the colour/dye mix to make them environment friendly?
With SpinDye, we add the tailored masterbatch into the recycled polymer mix during the spinning of yarn (POY); this simple process makes conventional fabric bath dyeing in a wet process obsolete. Conventionally dyed polyester fabric requires 75 per cent more water, 90 per cent more chemicals, 30 per cent more energy and 25 per cent more CO2.
How is We Are SpinDye better than traditional dyeing or even waterless dyeing techniques in the textile industry?
Not only does We Are SpinDye have massive water and resource saving capabilities, the process also comes with the benefit of naturally more colourfast fabrics when comparing to conventional wet process dyeing. This is partly due to the technology itself where the fibre is completely saturated with colour but also by the predominant use of pigments instead of soluble dyes. This makes products made with We Are Spindye yarns much more durable to sunlight, wash and perspiration.
What research work went inside developing your unique dyeing process?
To get this right we had to start at the colour development stage, which is fundamental. Colour development is done at the master batch level in a lab, and by managing that with precision, we guarantee to meet the requirements on timeline, cost, colour fastness and spinnability. We have the capacity to develop colour in all regions globally where yarn and fabric productions are located.
Once the correct colour is developed and the necessary requirements are met, we map that to our exclusive colour coordination system. By pairing precision in colour development with a tailored coordination system for colour recipes, we have been able to use accumulated data to continuously improve predictions. The goal is to be able to make predictions with the same level of precision on finished fabrics and various constructions. Such an accomplishment will be a complete game changer.
For complete transparency, we developed a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based certificate, which is issued in real time for every single order. The certificate visualises impact savings in an intuitive and user-friendly manner. This means our customers can use the underlying data for several application scopes, such as in their brand communication, sustainability reports and HIGG reporting. This information is also attractively available through our ingredient branding package which includes informative hangtags and labels.
What is the cost of using We Are SpinDye for manufacturers compared to conventional dyes or other organic dyes?
It is very difficult to generalise as it can vary greatly based on volume and colours, but as a rule of thumb, smaller volumes in deep, chromatic colours will come with a premium price and bigger volumes in base colours are very competitive.
What is the water footprint of the SpinDye process?
On an average, we save 75 per cent of the water compared to conventional wet process dyeing.
With the fresh round of $3 million in investments you received last year, what growth have you envisioned for your company?
We are currently working on a focused approach targeting larger brands with big sustainability ambitions and larger volumes (where we can make the most impact), and we see a steady stream of candidates making their way into that category. Growth potential does not have a cap; it is up to the brands to set the pace. We are here and ready to move, We Are SpinDye is one of the few true scalable solutions available.
How does traceability work?
Our certificates track environmental impact, but also come with a traceability aspect. Our philosophy is that you cannot make credible impact claims unless it is backed up by full transparency. Currently all transaction documents between production sites are monitored manually and audited by a third party, but we are in trials to combine Internet of Things (IoT) and radio frequency identification (RFid) solutions as a way of automating the process. The certificate includes a detailed list with name and contacts of all units involved in the production of the products.
Does it work well with small batches too?
We can do as little as a few 100 kg yarn per colour. However, it is not cost or time efficient with current level of technology.
Which are your major markets-application-wise and in terms of geographies? Which new ones do you plan to explore?
Regarding geography, historically and going forward Europe will be the major market as this is where we are located. However, both China and the United States are showing great potential. Regarding applications, until now we have been very strong in the sports and outdoor market with brands like Fjällräven and Quiksilver using our technology. I believe the sector has been slightly more mature for low impact technologies. But we currently see a huge interest coming from the fashion and retail sector, which I believe will be a very important market for us. An example is light woven items like blouses, shirts and dresses that drive massive volumes in recycled polyester.
Can it be used for all kinds of fibres?
We made the decision to focus on recycled polyester as we are preparing for what we believe is the next leap in creating a lower impact industry-circularity, not just open loop recycling. Polyester is the raw material most suited to be able to cope with the challenges of circularity. In addition, considering that today polyester has a market cap of over 60 per cent of textiles produced globally, we want to focus our efforts where it matters the most and where we can make the most impact.
What kinds of colour mixes are the hardest to develop?
The most difficult colours can be highly saturated and deep colours that require maximum dosage levels. Such colours most likely require a bit of tinkering.
What are the long-term plans at SpinDye? What is next in pipeline?
Our focus is and will continue to be to establish our brand in the market, of course we want to emphasise the fashion industry to get out of the starting block. We are also aiming to reach out to the end consumer with our message, make them to get engaged and put pressure on the brands.
Our long-term goal is to put water out of business by eliminating the use of wet process dyeing for polyester and recycled polyester on a global scale. Up next is scaling up and maximising all current available production capacity to force stakeholders to invest in even larger, more flexible set-ups, and pairing all the above with infrastructural development and digital investments. (HO)