Green textiles of all colours
Consumers are increasingly looking for sustainably produced textiles when buying clothes. The company HeiQ Materials (in Schlieren, Canton of Zurich), has developed a process that enables textiles manufacturers to dye synthetic fibres saving not only time but also energy and water.
Top athletes and many amateur sports lovers alike swear by specialist underwear made from textiles that prevent the build-up of sweaty odours, repel water and ensure optimum temperature regulation. Textile manufacturers use some innovative processes to produce such fabrics, including one from HeiQ Materials AG. Carlo Centonze and Dr. Murray Height founded the company in 2005 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. The company now employs 80 people, and its customers include textiles manufacturers in Italy, Turkey, the USA and a number of Asian countries. The clothes made from these manufacturers’ textiles are sold worldwide.
The global production of textiles is huge, and the leverage from the use of environmentally sustainable processes is commensurate in this business sector. One such process is the “HeiQ Clean Tech” system, which is used in the dyeing of polyesters. It not only saves time for textile manufacturers, but also reduces their water and energy consumption by 30% in comparison with standard processes. To date, HeiQ has supplied the process to customers in countries as far afield as Turkey and China. The innovative technical process earned the company the Environmental Business Award from the Swiss Environmental Foundation in 2019.
The environment also benefits from other HeiQ processes, including the manufacture of water-repellent textiles without the use of damaging PFCs (perfluorinated compounds and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals). As reduced odour build-up enables clothes to be washed less frequently, this saves the valuable resource of water and reduces pollution. This substantial impact is the result of many years of investment by HeiQ in the company’s development. A milestone on the way to the firm’s success was provided by the Swiss sportswear manufacturer Odlo – the custom of this well-known company in HeiQ’s early days enabled the newcomer to gain a valuable foothold in the competitive textiles market, and to make a name for itself.