Textiles are a resource-heavy business. In an effort to reduce water consumption, energy use and a need for chemicals, adidas created the DryDye technology, which uses pressurized CO2 in place of water to dye t-shirts and other garments.
A typical t-shirt requires 25 liters (6.6 gallons) of water to dye and process. Water is often used as a solvent in pre-treatment and finishing processes such as washing, scouring, bleaching and dyeing. Each of those processes also uses chemicals. According to adidas the DryDye process uses no water; 50 percent less energy and 50 percent fewer chemicals.
To put water savings in perspective, adidas says in about two years the textile industry uses enough water to fill the Mediterranean Sea to dye clothing. In second quarter 2012 adidas produced 50,000 DryDye t-shirts to meet retailer demand. In that production run, adidas saved over 1,200,000 liters (317,000 gallons) of water. The company is working on using the DryDye process on other garments beyond t-shirts in the future.
The adidas t-shirts made using the DryDye process for this summer were the first use of the process for a global product. The Yeh Group is a mill in Thailand that processes the DryDye t-shirts.
The DryDye process is explained in the following video from adidas.