Oregon Leads The Way in Sustainable Textiles
The University of Oregon is developing a sustainable textile factory close by its Northeast Portland campus. It is a joint venture with NTX, a Singapore-based company, which is a leader in this field: having developed an environmentally friendly, and virtually waterless, dyeing process which is much more sustainable than traditional dyeing processes.
Whilst this will not generate that many new jobs, probably in the low dozens but still welcome, it is nevertheless, another step in building Portland’s reputation as a leader in the sportswear sector – and especially in the field of sustainable and environmentally friendly products and may lead to other organisations, seeking to establish R&D facilities, coming to Oregon to share in its facilities and learning. The supply chain company Luenthai (based in Hong-Kong) is also partnering with NTX. This new technology will be available to University of Oregon students: especially those on the Sports Product Management programme, the Sports Product Design programs; as well as those on Eugene-based programs.
Although a site has not yet been chosen it is known that last year the University of Oregon bought the Ex-Concordia University campus, which is nearby, and which could be a candidate for the site. The new site is expected to be about 10,000 ft.² and a key benefit is that people will no longer have to travel to Asia for access to new Research and Development and to keep up to date, as it will now be carried out and available domestically within the USA. The new facility will be called the ‘NTX Portland Bridge Innovation Lab’.
Prosper Portland, which is the development agency for the City of Portland, estimates there are something like 800 sports’ wear and outdoor wear organisations in Oregon, several of which focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly products, such as ‘Hilos’, which produces 3D-printed footwear; and ‘Unless Collective’ which turns out plant-based products. In addition, the ‘Sustainable Fashion Forum’ is based in Portland.
Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, one of the co-founders of the University of Oregon Portland based Sport Product Management programme, said that the new facility would be able to cut, dye and sew textiles. This will not only help local and other companies to develop new sustainable products quickly, but also, and perhaps more importantly, get them to market more quickly. It will also be able to produce small quantities of products for clients. She further said “It’s a sustainable process. “It makes beautiful products, and it makes sustainable performance products.”
Hisham, Muhareb, founder of ‘The Material Shows’ wrote that the new facility “underscores Oregon’s emergence as a global epicenter for athletic and outdoor innovation.”
Key statistics include that the NTX process uses 90% less water; 65% less energy; and 40% less dye than in other, more traditional, processes. This is according to the ‘Higgs Index’ which measures environmental impacts of processes. This of course is not only better for the environment but reduces the cost of production: thus enabling better margins.
The University of Oregon and NTX held a joint formal signing ceremony last week.