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Dyeing, Finishing & Printing Sustainability

i-COPES project, sustainable coloration on textiles


The i-COPES, the process to colorize and make patterns without water, chemical and dystuffs, was invented by Johannes A. Craamer in 2013. Polyester and some new Polymers have been developed by CTC (Craamer Textile Consulting) both staple as filament yarns. The i-COPES project will enable us to eliminate conventional dyeing and printing processes. Dyeing baths are no longer required to achieve the desired color.

sustainable textile industry
Figure 1: The i-COPES project enables to elimination of conventional dyeing and printing processes in the textile industry making it sustainable.

Printing pastes are no longer required to reach the desired prints. Systems are no longer necessary for printing and dyeing systems or digital systems like inkjet, valve jet or DOD.

Objectives of the project

Craamer Textile Consulting has been trying to build a system with fiber material for the textile industry, which is sustainable and requires less or no finishing processes which are harmful to our environment. Needless or no water and thus emits less wastewater and consumes less energy.

The processes such as pre-treatment, dyeing, printing and finishing of textiles will be more environmentally friendly and less dangerous to our environment. We can only achieve this by using less harmful chemicals and less harmful dyestuffs and use less water and energy-consuming processes.

So, there’s also less wastewater. Establish more contacts with textile designers, chemical producers and machine builders to exchange more technical information. Knowledge is power and will enable us to work greener!


The entire world of textile production by about 60 trillion kilograms consumed:

  • 1,074 trillion KWh energy
  • 132 million tons of coal
  • 6 to 9 trillion liters of water

Even the most polluting industry in this world is the textile industry and cotton is one of the most polluting fibers in this industry. Cotton grows only in the alternating wet and dry tropics and the alternating humid Mediterranean climate, about 190 frost-free days need to grow properly.

These regions called ‘Cotton belt’ and is located by the 32nd latitude South to the 37th parallel north to the globe. The cotton is grown on approximately 35 million hectares in about 80 countries. This is 2.5% of the world’s surface area.

The cotton makes high demands on the quality of the soil. Through this very intensive use, the soil is rapidly drained and unusable. As a result, ever-larger areas, also due to the high use of chemicals, to be completely worthless. The chemicals contaminate the groundwater. There is even a shortage of drinking water and the population suffers from diseases. Also, diseases caused by dispersed insecticides and fertilizers.

Aral Sea contamination for cotton cultivation
Figure 2: Increased evaporation, coupled with reduced groundwater inflow and precipitation, due to increased cotton cultivation and other manmade hazards has led to the foaming of water. Courtesy: Neha Mungekar

An example of the consequences of the cultivation of cotton on the Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, called the largest environmental disaster in the world, speaks for itself.

  • There are more cancers than in other CIS countries
  • 80% of women suffer from anemia
  • High mortality in infants
  • Large number of birth defects
  • Strong increase in kidney damages and SIP intestinal cancer
  • Immune deficiency, typhoid and cholera
  • The groundwater was contaminated with pesticides
  • A salt desert is now created where drinking water was available once

In Pakistan and Greece, the groundwater and drinking water are contaminated where cotton is grown. The groundwater level has fallen in California. In Pakistan and Egypt, the cotton cultivation contributes to the spread of deserts. In South Australia, the soil is excessively salty. And these are just a few examples!

Large amounts of fertilizers, plant protection products and pesticides are required to obtain a large amount of cotton production. About 20% of the world’s production of fertilizers and pesticides ends up in the cotton fields. Pesticides alone have almost 150 million kilos per year.

The cotton needs about three months up to the flower. About 50 days after flowering cotton plant matures about walnussgroßen capsules, burst and swell the seed hair.

Before the cotton can be harvested are again used to defoliants (A defoliant is any herbicidal chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause their leaves to fall off). From about 100 kilos of raw cotton to get 35-kilo fibers, 62 kilos of seeds and 3 kilos of waste.

The consumption of water is approximately 20,000 to 29,000 liters per kilo of cotton! World’s work between 5,000,000 and 9,000,000 children in cotton production. Each year more than 1,000,000 children aged between 7 and 12 years of age are engaged in Egypt.

After the cotton was harvested, it is stored approximately 30 days to the tire up and drying. Afterwards fibers in large bales are pressed. The bales are transported further and so that they are protected during transportation from pests and mildew, then chemical is injected again.

soil degradation for cotton cultivation
Figure 3: In this project the processes such as pre-treatment, dyeing, printing and finishing of textiles will be more environmentally friendly and less dangerous to already perilous state of the environment.

The bales are now solved and the ginning machines remove the capsule rests. Then, the bales are pressed again. The following processes are now necessary to get a textile, that stays white will be dyed or printed.

The whole cotton processing includes: 1 harvest 2 bale presses 3 transport 4 open bales 5 clean 6 bale presses 7 bale open 8 carding 9 transport 10 combing 11 spinning 12 strengthen 13 drying 14 shearing 15 weaving 16 singeing 17 discharge finishing 18 rinsing 19 drying 20 mercerizing/caustic soda 21 rinsing 22 drying 23 bleaching 24 washing 25 Drying 26 dyeing/printing 27 washing 28 drying 29 finishing 30 drying 31 calendaring 32 sanforising

Cotton process
Figure 4: Cotton process.

Here, 189 liters of water per kilo of cotton are consumed. Huge amounts of chemicals and salt are used on the wastewater and are difficult to clean the sewage treatment plants. The following processes are now necessary to get a textile, that stays white after dyed or printed is:

  • Chlorine compounds
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Azo benzidine dyes
  • Nitro nitrous compounds
  • Caustic soda
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Melamine-Formaldehyde resins
  • Acrylic
  • Fluorocarbon
  • Silicone

Many chemicals remain on the fiber so that 100% cotton on the label really means:

  • 70% Cotton
  • 5% Polyacryl
  • 8% Dyestuff
  • 14% Melamine – formaldehyde resin
  • 3% Plasticizer Bio

African cotton is certainly better than conventional cotton, but only until the harvest. Later, the same processes occur. Also, the most organic and Africa are grown cotton outside the United States and Europe, much of it in India, Turkey, Peru, China and Africa.

That means that if you buy organic or African cotton in the United States or Europe, this cotton is grown on the other side of the world is shipped elsewhere to dye, print or finish and to the Assembly again somewhere else in the world and then will be sent to a dealer somewhere in the world. Here I wonder what the carbon footprint looks like and how Cotton can be recommended!! To obtain a colored, shrink-free cotton fabric you will need about 32 processes along with a lot of energy, water and time, like:

  • 20,000 to 30,000 liters of water per kilo of cotton
  • Often has been the textile part of more than 35,000 kilometers

Now I will create a textile equivalent with polyester. Polyester is made from Dimethyl terephthalate and glycol. So, both petroleum products.

1 spinning (fiber) 2 strengthening/fixing 3 cut (for spin fibers) 4 bale presses 5 open bale 6 carding 7 straighten 8 spinning (yarn) 9 shearing 10 weaving 11 dyeing/printing 12 washing 13 drying 14 finishing 15 drying/heat setting 16 calendars (if necessary)

cotton fertilizer contamination
Figure 5: Do you know cotton is one of the most polluting fibers, and about 20% of the world’s production of fertilizers and pesticides ends up in the cotton fields?

Polyester is made now in almost all European countries so that the carbon footprint looks very good in comparison with the cotton. Polyester can even be recycled! Here, the carbon footprint will be again better. To obtain a colored, shrink-free polyester fabric you will need:

  • 16 processes
  • 33-50 liters of water per kilo polyester
  • No land needed to cultivate
  • No toxic pesticides are used
  • No toxic fungicides are used
  • No toxic insecticides are used
  • There are no environment fertilizers used
  • No toxic bleach is needed
  • No caustic soda processes needed like with cotton
  • It consumed approximately 600x less water than cotton
  • There are no diseases caused by insecticides, pesticides or fungicides
  • There is here no child labor

Although this shows that we have to rethink and consequently use other fiber types as cotton! It is important to research and develop new systems to protect our environment.

Johannes A. Craamer started the i-COPES Project on the 10th of December 2013 and it allows us to eliminate the conventional dyeing and printing processes.

  • Dyeing baths are no longer required to achieve the desired color
  • Printing pastes are no longer required to reach the desired printing
  • Print- and dyeing systems using inkjet – valve jet – or DOD systems are no longer necessary
  • Dyestuffs, chemicals and water are no longer necessary
If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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