Biotech company Novozymes has teamed up with the China Knitting Industry Association (CKIA) under a three-year agreement to promote the use of enzyme technology, with the aim of saving water and energy.

As the Chinese textile industry battles cost pressures, growing environmental problems, and laws limiting the consumption of fresh water used in knitwear production, sustainability is becoming increasingly important.

Novozymes will work with CKIA, which represents Chinese knitters and sewers, to support its 600 member companies by sharing its better practices, according to Novozymes global marketing manager Christian Wieth.

"This gives us a platform to introduce new innovations," he noted.

CKIA chairman Yang Shibin added: "We want to tackle the challenges through the cooperation with high-tech enterprises from Europe and America. Using biological technology to deal with environmental problems would bring lower risks, reasonable costs and fewer side effects."

He added: "Costs should be reduced by optimising production management. Improved management will save manpower and increase efficiency."

According to Wieth, Hong Kong based shirt maker Esquel Group is saving 80,000 litres of water and 1,000kg of CO2 per tonne of fabric by using Novozymes' enzyme applications throughout the wet processing of knitted fabric.

"If you take the Esquel case where we're saving 80,000 litres of water per tonne of fabric, that is roughly cutting 30-40% of the water consumption in a textile mill on the wet processing side. So if we can help CKIA obtain this among a broad range of member companies, we will of course be very happy about that and supporting China in their challenges of stark water resources," he told just-style. 

Not only will mills be able to save water, but the textile industry footprint could benefit from the use of Novozymes biopolishing solution, which helps make textiles that last longer.

By shaving off small fibres and fibre ends, Wieth added, this prevents pilling, improves durability, reduces colour staining, retains colours and maintains whiteness.

Zhang Yankai, vice chairman of China National Textile and Apparel Council also noted: "The cooperation between the CKIA and Novozymes will make the Chinese textile industry more ecological by making progress in pollution control and cleaner production. Also, it will contribute to build a resource-saving and environment-friendly society."