Waterless dyeing

Dutch company DyeCoo devised a machine that dyes textiles without using any water. This marks a huge environmental improvement considering that the textiles industry is one of the world’s greatest water consumers. The company won the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award with its idea in 2009. Since then ‘dry dyeing’ has taken the world by storm.

DyeCoo dyes textiles using CO2

Textile factories dye approximately 28 billion kilos of textiles annually. They need 100 to 150 litres of clean water for every kilo of textiles. A simple calculation reveals that there is hardly another industry that uses as much water as the textiles industry. The Netherlands-based DyeCoo thought this needed to change and developed a machine that dyes textiles without using a drop of water.

No need for chemicals

Dry fibres are placed in a machine that makes the dyes penetrate into the textiles under high pressure. The textiles are dry when they come out of the machine. The system uses CO2 that comes from other industrial processes. 95 percent of this CO2 can be recycled. The CO2 liquidizes under pressure and as a result the dye can adhere to the fibres. This technology provides huge benefits: the dry dyeing technology reduces water consumption to zero and no chemicals are needed. Drying is unnecessary and the dyeing process is twice as fast as the traditional dyeing method. This in turn leads to a reduction in energy consumption.

Ahead of its time

This idea isn’t new. Scientists at a German university came up with the principle of dry dyeing using CO2 thirty years ago. They developed the concept, proved that it worked and then….shelved it. Why? Because back then, awareness of the importance of sustainability was still in its infancy.
But it’s a different story now. DyeCoo developed the idea into a working prototype that quickly attracted the attention of several major clothing and textile manufacturers. Global brands Nike and Ikea invested in the company in order to accelerate its further development.

Ten Olympic swimming pools

Sportswear manufacturer Adidas soon joined in and has, just like Nike, now introduced a sportswear line featuring fabrics that have been dyed by DyeCoo. Adidas introduced its new sportswear line in 2012 under the name DryDye. In the company’s first year of operation, it dry dyed more than one million metres of textiles. This saved no less than 25 million litres of water – enough to fill ten Olympic swimming pools. Nike’s version is called ColorDry. The sports brand sees sustainable dry dyeing as an innovative milestone for the clothing industry. The manufacturer reports that it has seen the dyeing time reduced by 40 percent and energy consumption by 60 percent. Nike also says the colours that come out of the DyeCoo machines are 'the most intense and consistent colours we’ve ever seen.'

From potential to patents

Rabobank recognised the potential of the idea several years ago and rewarded DyeCoo with the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award – the award for sustainable high-impact innovations. DyeCoo used the related prize money to register patents. The next thing the company had to do was build the first industrial machine. DyeCoo obtained the required financial resources for this via funds. DyeCoo quickly caught the attention of parties in Asia and they began looking for a partner with expertise in the field of international business. It turned to Rabobank for the required financing and advice.

Creating opportunities

Rabobank Export Finance helped draft the letter of credit whereby the buyer’s bank pledges to pay the vendor as long as certain delivery conditions are met. DyeCoo did not have any experience in this area and so the expertise of the Rabobank Export Finance specialist came in very handy. Rabobank Amstel en Vecht then provided working capital. Account Manager Volkert Koelewijn of Rabobank Amstel en Vecht explains the decision to provide financing for this startup company: 'Banks provide financing based partly on historical data. That data doesn’t exist in the case of new innovative companies. But we nevertheless provided DyeCoo with working capital. We believe in the company and in the product. DyeCoo’s sustainable and innovative nature also suits Rabobank to a tee.’