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Green technology from Austria for blue jeans

29. October 2013

Innovation from Austria is replacing aggressive bleaching technology with mild enzymes leading to more environmentally friendly and cost-effective manufacturing.

About 3 billion pairs of jeans are sold worldwide every year – many of these are used-look jeans, achieved by using aggressive bleaching or damaging mechanical processes. This is now set to become a thing of the past thanks to a smart new method developed by scientists at Innsbruck University. The laboratory’s new method is now ready for industrial application and allows manufacturers to achieve the desired used-look without chemical bleaching.

The cutting-edge technology relies on biological enzymes which alter the fibres of the material. In contrast to the usual method of bleaching the indigo colour, it is dissolved out of the fibres. This allows the natural white colour of the cotton fibres to show through, achieving the requisite effect. What’s more, the enzyme booster ”Acticell” allows the enzymes to be processed more efficiently and with far greater control over the final look. This not only eliminates the need for an entire step in the manufacturing process, but also benefits the environment and the health of textile workers.

With consulting services and support from the business incubator INiTS , the enzyme booster will be sold by the company of the same name Acticell , which will sell licences for the new production process. There is massive potential in this technology, with the global market for partial bleaching worth around EUR 270m. The company aims to secure a market share of 5% in the coming years.