Reverse Osmosis & The Denim Industry = Sustainability and Profitability

What does reverse osmosis have to do with the fashion industry?

Plenty. The denim industry has provided us with some functional, practical, fashion-forward, and timelessly cool clothing and fashion products for over 150 years.

It’s also an industry that’s become more and more eco-conscious, particularly when it comes to water consumption. That trend toward conservation has been growing over several decades. 

Let’s take a look at the size of the denim industry to get some perspective on its industrial water and resource consumption. We went to the global denim and fashion industry consultants at Denim Dudes for some insight:

With the emergence of many new sustainable fashion coalitions and initiatives, there is no doubt the fashion industry needs a clean up;  denim in particular has been under attack for being one of the worst offenders. 6 BILLION [pairs of] jeans are produced a year, and 30% of those (1.8 billion jeans) never even get worn. But, denim’s waste problem isn’t solely due to unsold stock. Waste encompasses so many elements within the production of a pair of jeans: the water and energy used, the raw materials, and the manufacturing processes.

Some quick math shows that a pair of jeans is manufactured annually for three-fourths of our planet’s population. And the denim manufacturing process consumes resources at an alarming scale.

The Challenge: It’s estimated that producing a single pair of jeans takes anywhere from 900 to 1600 gallons of water. 

There’s a cost to creating an awesome-looking, durable pair of jeans!

Water usage variance comes primarily from the type of jeans produced, the dying process, fabric design, desired texture, and other factors. Stone and pre-washed jeans typically also require significantly higher amounts of water. The pre-washing process, designed to preshrink and pre-fade jeans for style and comfort, adds significant water usage to the manufacturing process.

So, doing some more quick math, the denim industry uses well over a trillion gallons of fresh water annually. That’s more water by far than most freshwater recreational reservoirs in the U.S. contain. It’s also enough to provide an inch of water to 60,000 square miles of farmland. 

And, until recently, much of that water was wasted in the manufacturing process.   

The good news is that in the denim industry, from Wrangler to Levi Strauss to AG Jeans and hundreds of designer brands in between, companies are dedicating design, manufacturing, and engineering resources to sustainable processes.

And as an industry leader in industrial reverse osmosis systems for water conservation and purification, the team at FCI Watermakers is here to provide practical solutions. 

Reverse osmosis water treatment systems and the denim industry’s ongoing efforts to support sustainability. 

The overarching goal of the denim industry is to reduce waste, and that goal spans the entire supply chain. This includes the cotton and indigo agricultural processes, natural, organic, and synthetic dying techniques, circular product recycling, and countless resource conservation initiatives.

Denim manufacturing facilities around the globe are also looking for innovative zero-waste industrial water solutions. Engineered water optimization solutions need to be industry-tested, effective, seamless to the manufacturing process, and supportive of sustainability at all operational levels.

Reverse osmosis has emerged as the leading technological component in a comprehensive industrial water treatment strategy

Why Reverse Osmosis? 

Simply put, zero-wastewater, or any level of significant water usage conservation and reduction approaching zero-waste, cannot be achieved without RO at the core.

Solutions for denim clothing manufacturers often include ultrafiltration and nanofiltration systems upstream from the RO equipment. In this case, upstream filtering can be utilized to remove denim sludge and the larger impurities. 

The RO system will work as the last and most critical step in the process to remove dissolved solids and impurities from the dying and washing process. This type of integrated solution will provide the most comprehensive level of purification and filtration, including monovalent ions. What was formerly industrial process wastewater can now be recycled and purified for reuse.

That means sustainable water usage, a more streamlined manufacturing process, and significantly lower water usage and costs.  

Where can denim apparel manufacturers go for more information on water conservation, reuse, and sustainable solutions? 

That’s the easy part, you’re halfway there. We’re to help you with the details, like how an RO solution would fit seamlessly into your operations, how much it would cost, what’s the ROI, and what an installation looks like. 

Our team has over 30 years of experience designing and building industrial RO water purification systems. In a world that’s becoming more attuned to sustainable manufacturing, you need a partner with the experience and knowledge to keep pace. That partner is FCI Watermakers.

Innovation, engineering excellence, sustainability, and unsurpassed product quality are at the core of everything we do. Are you ready to get started on the path toward sustainable water conservation? Or maybe you just have some questions? 

Wherever you’re at in your journey, we’re here to help.

Call us at 800.850.0123 or get in touch with our team online today.