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[ Swiss chemical process makes eco-friendly jeans ]

It takes lots of water and chemicals to make a pair of jeans, and environmentally conscious clothing makers caught on years ago to the need to make more sustainable versions of these popular pants.

But a Swiss chemical company recently said its process for making eco-friendly jeans could streamline those efforts, saving enough water to cover the needs of 1.7 million people per year if one quarter of the world’s jean-makers started using it.

The dying technology, known as Advanced Denim, was described at the 16th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, sponsored by the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute.

Miguel Sanchez, a textile engineer at Clariant, said the technique can produce a pair of jeans using up to 92 percent less water and up to 30 percent less energy than conventional denim manufacturing methods.

Traditional techniques may require as many as 15 dyeing vats and a host of chemicals, while Advanced Denim uses one vat and a new kind of liquid sulfur dye that requires just one sugar-based reducing agent, he said.

The process, if used on a wide scale, could save 2.5 billion gallons of water per year, prevent the release of 8.3 million cubic meters of wastewater and save up to 220 million kilowatt hours of electricity, he added.

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