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

US retailers stock up amid tariff threat

Apparel imports into the US took a tumble in March, with double-digit declines from three of the top ten supplier countries. While the results reflect Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia, China –...

BLOG

Uncertain times should spur innovation

The uncertainty of potential tariffs affecting the clothing and textile sector – and a Trump administration that appears poised to levy more of them – continue to loom large over the apparel and footw...

BLOG

How Bangladesh has moved from "basket case" to bellwether

The fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh dominated coverage on just-style last week....

BLOG

Bangladesh safety gaps still remain

As the apparel industry prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory building tragedy, a new report estimates it could cost US$1.2bn to complete remediation across Bangladesh's rea...

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?