Potential trade-off between water consumption and water quality: life cycle assessment of nonaqueous solvent dyeing


Fashion industry consumes over 60% of global fibers and attracts increasing attentions due to its environmentally polluting supply chain. In addition to natural fibers cultivation, wet processes of textile manufacturing are also important contributors to water-related impacts due to their large freshwater consumption and the production of chemicals containing wastewater. Despite of efforts made in improving efficiency of water use and wastewater treatment in textile industry, innovative ‘water-free’ technologies, such as nonaqueous dyeing technology using organic solvent, have been developed and demonstrated to reduce water consumption significantly. However, the potential impact on water quality by organic solvents induced in supply chain of this emerging technology remains unassessed, posing an unknown risk of its promotion. Hence, in the present study, a comprehensive life cycle assessment is applied to evaluate its full environmental impacts, including those on ecosystem and human health caused by decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) as the solvent used. Further, the nonaqueous dyeing system is compared with traditional aqueous dyeing technology from both environmental and economic perspectives. Results indicate that nonaqueous dyeing system is advanced in most of environment categories except for abiotic depletion potential (ADP) and Ecotoxicity. However, scenarios analysis reveal that these findings are influenced by the loss fraction of D5 during the solvent recovery process. It is suggested that the loss fraction should be controlled below 2% o.w.f. for the nonaqueous dyeing technology to be advanced throughout all environmental categories. Nonaqueous D5 dyeing could reduce water consumption by 61.30%-79.95% and greenhouse gas emissions by 43.70% compared to the traditional system, delivering a promising contribution to China’s 2060 carbon neutrality ambition. Sensitivity and uncertainty analyses are also conducted to investigate the effects of the key parameters (incl. inventory data and USEtox model inputs) and demonstrate the robustness of our assessment.

Authors: Yi Zhang, Shengcai Guo, Yan Gong, Lei Wang
; Full Source: Water research 2022 Feb 25;215:118222. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2022.118222.