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GREENWEAR to Adopt Natural Origin Verification System

GREENWEAR is introducing a system to prove the use of natural substances in natural dye and natural dyeing fabrics.

GREENWEAR to Adopt Natural Origin Verification System

In January 2023, GREENWEAR announced the adoption of a natural origin verification system for natural dyes and fabrics through KOTERI (Korea High Tech Textile Research Institute). GREENWEAR expects to enhance the credibility of their natural dye fabrics through this system.

GREENWEAR has announced that it is now possible to prove whether natural dyes were used or not.

The Rise of Natural Materials

Most of the mordern products we use in our daily lives are based on synthetic materials. Products such as plastic bags and straws are based on petrochemicals, which are obtained as raw materials during the process of refining and processing oil. Fashion is no different. From polyester to nylon fibers, most synthetic dyes used in dyeing are made from petrochemical-based materials such as benzene and BTX. However, petroleum contains about 80-90% carbon and is being criticized for causing significant environmental pollution during the refining, processing, production, use, and disposal processes. As a result, materials made from natural ingredients are once again gaining attention.

The natural indigo dye is difficult to distinguish from synthetic indigo pigment.

Reliability issue of using natural materials

As the sustainability and eco-friendliness of natural materials have gained attention, various products such as organic foods and natural material products have emerged. However, there is a problem in distinguishing whether they are made of synthetic materials or not. For instance, indigo dye, widely used for denim dyeing, is chemically identical to synthetic indigo pigment, even though it is extracted from the plant Indigofera tinctoria, making it difficult to distinguish between natural and synthetic indigo dyes. As natural dyeing gains popularity, it becomes more difficult to determine whether a product has been dyed with real natural dyes or synthetic materials that are chemically identical to natural dyes using conventional testing methods.

Such concerns are related to the "greenwashing" issue, which refers to the practice of promoting environmentally friendly images while producing products that actually have a negative impact on the environment. As a leading natural dyeing company, GREENWEAR has proactively introduced a natural dyeing verification system to prevent these issues from emerging in the natural dyeing market and to increase reliability.

Overview of the verification system for the use of natural substances.

Natural Material Verification System

It is difficult to verify whether a fabric has been naturally dyed through a single test. Therefore, the Natural Material Verification System consists of verification for dyes and dyeing products.

First, to analyze whether the dye used by GREENWEAR is truly based on natural materials, the presence of natural materials is confirmed through radiocarbon (C-14) isotope analysis (ASTM-D6866) by BETA Analytic™. In the atmosphere, there are stable carbon (C-12) and nitrogen, as well as radioactive carbon (C-14) that is created when cosmic rays react with the atmosphere. Plants absorb C-14 during photosynthesis while absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and animals absorb C-14 by eating plants or breathing air. When organisms die, they no longer absorb C-14 and the absorbed C-14 decays into nitrogen over time. Therefore, petroleum materials have very low or no C-14 content compared to natural materials. Therefore, when making a synthetic material from biomass that absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, it is possible to analyze whether it is a bio-based synthetic material or a petroleum-based synthetic material by analyzing the mass of carbon present in it.

Second, KOTERI verifies whether the dye used for the dyed fabric is natural material, which was identified as such in the previous radiocarbon test. To do this, the marker compounds of both the dye and the fabric are analyzed and compared. Marker compounds refer to the representative substances among the composition components of the dye used in natural dyeing. HPLC (High-Performance Liquid Chromatography) is one of the methods for analyzing the marker compounds of dyes used in natural dyeing. While HPLC analysis does not provide direct evidence of the natural origin of the dye, when used in conjunction with radiocarbon isotope analysis, which is a direct method for identifying the presence of synthetic components, it can prove whether the dyed product was made using natural materials. In other words, if the same marker compounds is detected in the product that was proven to be a natural dye through radiocarbon (C-14) isotope analysis, then it can be considered a product that was dyed using natural dye.

GREENWEAR's natural dyeing fabrics.

Expectation to secure reliability for natural dyeing

GREENWEAR is planning to publicly release the data it has gathered through its website. Analytical data on various fabrics and dyes will be available for anyone to check on the Dye and Product Analysis of Natural Origin Materials Used page under the Reliability menu. GREENWEAR also stated that "analysis data on various dyes and fabrics will be continually updated, and original test reports will be provided upon request from buyers and stakeholders," with the expectation of increased reliability on whether natural dyeing has been used.

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