The Denim Industry Moves Towards Transparency And Sustainability

How much water does it take to produce a pair of jeans?

It is very easy to talk about sustainability; in fact, we are all very good at talking about being ethical and environmentally friendly. In fact, however, things are very different.

3781: that is how many liters of water are consumed during the entire production cycle of a single pair of jeans, from the cotton plant to the end garment finished and ready for shipping. This is a huge quantity, equivalent to approximately 5 years of drinking water necessary for the survival of an average adult.

This figure has been confirmed by several authoritative studies: the World Water Council and Levi’s, among others.

To better understand what we are talking about, it is enough to summarize the path a pair of jeans follows from the cotton fiber to the final consumer.

Water, An Enormous Global Problem

There are now many reliable and impartial sources that indicate that water is destined to become a constant problem in our future. These same sources also show that even now, as many as 750 million people lack a sufficient amount of clean, drinkable water. In addition, over a billion people may not have access to clean, drinkable water. Indeed, it is estimated that by 2025, 2 out of 3 people will live in areas characterized by water scarcity and pollution. In short, the production of a simple pair of jeans is an integral part of this global problem.

In fact, the traditional production cycle includes some phases that require a high consumption of water:

  • Manual Scratching
  • PP Spray (Potassium Permanganate)
  • Stone Washing
  • Bleaching
  • Rinsing
  • Softening

But how many pairs of jeans are produced every day around the world? Surely an impressive number. This is why even the amount of water consumed for each garment should be viewed in a wider perspective.

With Tonello, The Denim Industry Is Increasingly More Transparent

Tonello is a company that has chosen to follow the path to transparency all the way, making the data related to its processes known without tricks or manipulations. Processes that are the result of constant research work led by the guiding star of sustainability: both the processing cycle and the garment itself are becoming increasingly “healthy” for the end user.

Since 1981, Tonello has been designing and producing innovative finishing technologies; technologies that have contributed and continue to contribute to the success of products ‘Made in Italy’ throughout the world. The company’s goal has always been to achieve the optimal synthesis between excellent performance and consumption – of water, electricity, additives – increasingly reduced.

Clean and efficient energy, environmental sustainability, safety for workers, garment wholesomeness, and overall transparency regarding the organization are the keywords that guide our strategies and daily work.

Sustainable Finishing According To Tonello

In order to reduce the amount of water used during processing garments, for many years Tonello research has been involved in the development of increasingly efficient and clean production processes:

  • Laser Blaze, which requires neither water nor chemical additives.
  • NoStone, which gives an amazing Stonewashed effect without using stones (and therefore with the obvious environmental benefits): to understand how the system works, watch the video at the bottom of the page.
  • ECOfree 2, which allows garments to be treated with ozone dissolved in either water or air, thus reducing manual labor, and the use of water and additives (read more about this post in the blog).
  • Ecospray Robot, respectful of and safe for the workers who have full control of the machine.
  • UP, technology that can be applied to most Tonello machines, and which reduces production times and costs, and reduces the liquor ratio to record levels (LR 2:1).
  • Core, the new evolution of the previous Batik, which saves up to 96% on water and 80% of the product, reduces process times and increases performance.

These are just a few of the processes that have recently come to light thanks to the continuous work of Tonello Research Center, which has an increasingly strategic importance in the company and which does not limit its activity to the laboratory, but which more and more often experiments in the field, constantly collaborating with the most qualified brands and laundries in the sector.

In this way – and herein lies the whole uniqueness of our company – Tonello technologies not only become an integral part of the production processes, but indirectly inspire the creation of the garments themselves.

Follow Tonello also on Instagram to follow their next steps into a cleaner denim industry: @tonellosrl.

Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.