Our environmental footprint is very important for us. In general it is known that textile dyeing requires a lot of water. In our philosophy we should not only look to the footprint of our products, but we feel the responsibility for the sustainability of our products too. In 2014 Steps decided to evaluate the currently in the textile industry applied waste water treatment technologies and concluded that Dutch treatment technology offered capabilities to improve the sustainability of our production. It was decided to switch to a new technology and the technology of Water4all was adapted. This technology was a mutual development of a Dutch water supply company and Water4all B.V. also a Dutch company. The technology is developed with the aim to build small scale autonomous running treatment units for producing drinking water under different circumstances. The process based on this technology makes it possible to operate the systems for drinking water supply in villages, leisure applications, disasters, renewing current water distribution networks, neighbourhoods, bottling and pouching of water for distribution etc. in Steps’ mind was: “a technology able to produce drinking water quality with very tight restrictions to the supplied water, is also able to treat our factory waste water”. The quality of the produced water is that of potable water according the WHO standards.
Some of the interesting features of the technology are the absence of using chemicals in the treatment process. Only by using electrodes and an electrical current, particles in the (waste) water react with each-other. Together with heavy-metals these contaminants stick together. After approximately 60 seconds these flakes grow to a size bigger than the pore size of the applied membrane (micro sieve). E.g. not only fibers, chips, mud etc., are sieved from the water, but due to the very small pores also bacteria, viruses, natural dye stiff etc. are blocked by the membrane. However in some cases for some products non-natural components have to be added to the process water for product quality reasons. These dissolved solids are on the level of molecules and cannot be removed by a mechanical like separation process. For these cases a second membrane phase is available. As a result of the whole treatment, the produced water meets potable water standards and can also be reused for process purposes again. This will reduce water consumption with about 90%.
To achieve these results, the full process consist of 3 separate steps:
- First: Electro flocculation
- Second: Ultra filtration
- Third: Nano Filtration
Not only the absence of using chemicals for the treatment, but also the very low energy consumption (app 100Wh/M3) and the very small footprint of one sea container for the whole treatment supports our philosophy of sustainable products.
This year Steps Footsocks will join together with Water4all a pilot to convert the caught contaminations from the water into more dry stuff and increase the efficiency of the treatment even more and make more selective waste handling possible.