Blog: Leonie BarrieIn a pickle over textile effluent

Leonie Barrie | 24 September 2010

Hot on the heels of yesterday's story about two of the world's largest clothing retailers working with their Chinese textile suppliers to reduce water, energy, and chemical use in their supply chains, comes news of another way to help firms to clean up their act: pickle-spoiling bacteria. Yes, you did read that right.

While suppliers to Walmart and H&M will be looking at more obvious things like finding and preventing leaks, re-using steam and water, installing proper insulation and electricity meters, it seems scientists in the US have been focusing their attention on a more unconventional way of treating textile effluent.

Apparently, the same bacteria that cause the red colouration on pickles that have gone off (it's actually a chemical reaction with yellow food-colouring agent tartrazine), can also modify azo dyes, which are used in the textile industry and may be passed along to wastewater streams if untreated. Azo dyes give fabrics vivid and warm colours such as red, orange, and yellow, and while many are nontoxic, some have been found to be mutagenic.

The researchers, who are based at the Food Science Research Unit, point out that a lot of effort has been put into trying to identify microorganisms capable of degrading azo dyes in wastewater. And if food-grade bacteria can do the job, they may well prove to be the organisms of choice for waste-treatment applications.

It's definitely food for thought.


BLOG

Hong Kong sustainability scoop

We led on just-style last week with a world exclusive scoop on a number of new projects being unveiled in Hong Kong next month – including the first mill being set up in the territory in more than hal...

BLOG

Spotlight on Central America sourcing

A worsening political and social crisis in Nicaragua is having a spillover effect in Central America, where the spectre of rising violence in Guatemala and El Salvador is threatening to undermine appa...

BLOG

Trump trade war may hit garment prices

With US president Donald Trump now threatening to impose tariffs on all US$500bn of goods imported from China, the upcoming trade war will undoubtedly hit garments. But replacing China means replacing...

BLOG

New re:source online strategic planning tool launched

Today marks an exciting milestone in just-style’s nearly 20-year history, with the official launch of our new re:source online strategic planning tool....

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?