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July 19, 2022

Epic Group, CleanKore to advance sustainable denim

Epic Group has partnered with CleanKore to scale the denim innovator’s yarn dyeing technology in a move they say will save 44% of water and 60% of energy in the garment finishing process.

By Michelle Russell

The partnership will aim at eliminating hazardous potassium permanganate spray and most manual processes in denim finishing, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water and chemical use in the process.

CleanKore patented technology changes the chemistry and the process used to dye yarns at denim mills by keeping intact the white core of the yarn and only dyeing the surface. The technology is said to significantly reduce water, chemicals and process time in the denim garment finishing stage.

Denim garment finishing often involves onerous manual processes such as handsanding and hand whiskering, spraying of harmful Potassium Permanganate (PP), and multiple washing cycles.

CleanKore technology, coupled with lasers, enable the elimination of the PP spray process, significantly, the company says, improving health and wellbeing of apparel workers, as well as emissions of harmful chemicals. Manual processes are eliminated in most styles and significantly reduced in others, it notes.

CleanKore technology is said to enable the reduction of wash cycles – reducing water, chemical use and process time, adding to the sustainability credentials of the end products.

The products currently tested by Epic Group and CleanKore demonstrate up to 44% of water savings in garment finishing and up to 60% of energy savings in the fabric dyeing stage, along with the elimination of PP spray.

Through the partnership, Epic Group and CleanKore are planning to rapidly scale adoption of the technology in partnership with Epic Group’s customer base. In the first year, the partnership plans to reach over 4m pairs of denim, working towards a scale of 15-20m pairs of denim per annum in the next three years, converting a large portion of Epic Group’s denim production to CleanKore technology.

“Unlike other technologies, we are thrilled to offer a much more sustainable product to consumers that is cost neutral,” says Darryl Costin Jr, president and CEO, CleanKore. “With Epic Group we are moving to make elimination of toxic potassium permanganate spray a norm in the manufacturing industry.”

Ranjan Mahtani, chairman, Epic Group, adds: “As a leading global denim manufacturer committed to improving sustainability in product and process, we work with breakthrough technologies that reduce negative impacts to the planet and the people. CleanKore technology offers a fantastic value proposition of significant sustainability benefits to our associates and the environment, without increasing the cost. Sustainable products should
be scalable – not niche, and we will rapidly scale up the adoption of this technology.

“CleanKore coupled with Epic Group’s advanced technologies such as laser and low-liquor ratio washing machines will create a new benchmark for sustainably manufactured denim.”

Earlier this year, Epic Group signed a sustainability-linked trade finance facility with HSBC where pricing is tied to its environmental performance.

The proceeds will support Epic Group’s working capital and trade cycle, with pricing linked to its performance in greenhouse gas emissions intensity, freshwater use intensity, as well as Higg Facility Environmental Module.

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