Denim manufacturing firms are making major investments in factories from the US to China to meet market demands and improve their environmental footprint.
Curbing excess use of water
A new textile maker, Vidalia Denim recently opened in a 900,000 sq. ft. facility in Vidalia, La., in the Mississippi Delta region. To employ over 300 full-time workers to make denim, this mill will be fully commercially operational in the first quarter of 2019. Its indigo dye technology will curb total water usage by more than 60 per cent compared to a legacy mill. The brand will also use e3 sustainable cotton exclusively in its operations, sourcing its cotton from across the U.S. farm belt.
Promoting eco-friendly cotton
Bayer CropScience has launched a new e3 cotton program that enables farmers to grow cotton in a less impactful way. Independent auditors will certify a farmer’s commitment to grow e3 cotton in an environmentally responsible, economically viable and socially equitable manner in the U.S.
Chinese denim mill Seazon plans to increase the number looms to 630. In line with this, Seazon will also introduce a new intelligent wastewater recycling system to its dyeing and finishing process, which will reuse more than 80 per cent of its wastewater.
Denim fiber firms expand capacity, global reach
Driven largely by shifts in sourcing patterns and increasing demand for sustainability, major denim fiber firms are building up their capacities and global reach. Invista’s Cordura brand has launched TrueLock, a next generation of durable colors. This fiber is made from Invista’s nylon 6.6 multi-filament fiber that is solution dyed, locking the color in at the molten polymer extrusion level to create deep, durable color throughout the fiber. The company further plans to expand the Cordura TrueLock filament product line to introduce additional standard colors and deniers.
The Lenzing Group, a major producer of wood-based cellulosic fibers, is in the midst of growing its capacity and upgrading its facilities. The company is investing more than €100 million ($116.5 million) in sustainable manufacturing technologies and production facilities through 2022. The company’s Refibra technology transforms cotton scraps from apparel production and wood pulp from responsibly managed forests into virgin Tencel lyocell fibers. The fibers are manufactured in a closed-loop production process using bioenergy.
Lenzing has also formed a joint venture with Duratex, to build the largest—a 450,000 ton capacity—single line dissolving wood pulp (DWP) plant in the state of Minas Gerais, close to São Paulo, Brazil. The estimated investment for the construction of this DWP mill is expected to be over $1 billion, and the joint venture will supply the entire volume of dissolving wood pulp to the Lenzing Group.
Increasing share of Spandex market
Korean company Hyosung Corp is making a $100 million investment in its first spandex plant in Maharashtra, India, which is expected to be operational by 2019. Hyosung aims to increase its share of the Indian spandex market to 70 per cent from the current 60 per cent. This would bring the company’s total number of plants to nine globally, with additional investment planned for total capacity of 390,000 tonnes globally by 2020. To make Vietnam a global production base for all of its core products, Hyosung established Hyosung Vietnam in the Nhon Trach industrial complex with an investment of approximately $1.5 billion.