Waste water treatment has always been a big challenge for fashion producers and brands. Some, such as the Fashion for Good global sustainability initiative, see it as an attractive opportunity for innovation. Together with its Scaling Program that started SeaChange Technologies, which has developed a wastewater treatment system that is changing the game, Fashion for Good has started a pilot project to assess the feasibility of solutions at scale. Corporate partners of Arvind Limited, Bestseller, C&A and PVH Corp. participate in trials and will support future technology implementation in the supply chain.
“Fashion for Good is committed to finding and supporting the most disruptive technologies, such as SeaChange Technologies, to solve major problems in the fashion value chain. “SeaChange has made great progress in just two years as participants in the Scaling Program, culminating in this trial, which gives them the momentum needed to improve their technology,” commented Fashion for Good managing director Katrin Ley in a press release published on Thursday .
Arvind, Bestseller, C&A and PVH Corp. support the Fashion for Good and SeaChange pilots
Arvind Limited, a global leader in clothing manufacturing that focuses on textiles, sophisticated materials and environmental solutions, provides access to the company’s liquid waste treatment plant in Gujarat, India, one of the world’s largest textile manufacturing operations, to conduct field evaluations. The SeaChange system was implemented for three months to test and evaluate the feasibility of applying its wide scale.
“The Fashion Program for Good Scaling gives us the opportunity to show our technological potential in the field by working with leading clothing brands,” said Dipak Mahato, founder of SeaChange Technologies.
Given that the conventional wastewater treatment process is very complex, SeaChange technology is able to connect to several existing points of conventional systems. Pilots provide the opportunity to test SeaChange technology in a variety of different waste streams such as sludge, dye concentrates and waste mixtures, Reverse Osmosis reject and “Mother Liquor”, liquid concentrates left after crystallization or other similar water treatment processes.
According to Fashion for Good, all waste streams are successfully processed by the SeaChange system and reduced to minerals in one pass, demonstrating the technical feasibility of the technology to process wastewater. Sludge was chosen as the most appropriate application for SeaChange, given its large environmental impact and disposal costs.
How does the wastewater treatment process work?
In particular, SeaChange Technologies has developed an innovative mechanical system in which wastewater or sludge is heated, pressurized and injected as aerosols into a cyclone separator. “This one-step process uses cyclone separation techniques to attract unwanted material, microplastics, and other non-biodegradable components from the water itself. “Because of heat and the presence of oxygen in the air, these organic compounds then undergo thermal oxidation which causes them to be degraded to CO2,” the company explained.
Through almost critical water conditions, where around 5-10 percent of the mass of water is ionized, free radicals are created which can destroy most organic matter. “By using heat from the organic oxidation process, the use of energy in maintaining an almost critical environment is very efficient, using only about 60 percent of what should be needed for water evaporation,” he added. This process allows wastewater treatment while eliminating sludge production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; The CO2 produced is only a small part of the greenhouse gases produced by conventional processes.
Considering that a typical coloring house produces 1 to 3 tons of sludge per day from wastewater treatment, the costs incurred are very large considering the cost of disposal of mud is more than US $ 200,000 per year. The amount also produces more than 5,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year. “Implementing the SeaChange system in their treatment facilities will effectively eliminate these costs and associated environmental impacts,” SeaChange explained.
“Effective wastewater treatment remains a big challenge for the textile and apparel industry, finding efficient solutions is very important for the industry. C&A is committed to achieving zero disposal of hazardous chemicals throughout the supply chain and supporting its suppliers in the continuous improvement to achieve them, “confirmed Aleix Busquets Gonzalez, head of global sustainability at C&A.
In the coming year, SeaChange will pursue funding and strategic partnerships to implement their commercial application systems on a broad scale. While the transition from start-ups is very lean and low-cost, the main challenges facing SeaChange are developing teams, getting funding and building the partnerships they need to support commercial launches, which are startup targets for 2021.
Partnership and funding as the way forward
“Partnership and innovation are the key to finding measurable solutions to industry challenges. This pilot allows us to test and better understand some of the steps needed when we work to eliminate water pollution from wet processors. To push fashion forward, we cannot stop merely reducing our negative effects; we must work to eliminate it, “said Marissa Pagnani McGowan, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at PVH Corp.
Furthermore, SeaChange needs to increase equity investment – ideally from strategic brand partners – and incorporate engineering modifications to address pilot trial learning, such as integrated control with telemetry and cloud-based monitoring.
Photos & illustrations: Fashion for Good