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Textile

The secret behind robust school uniforms

A school uniform that continues to look new after the first week of term is every parent's dream.

TEXT: Polly Davis
PHOTOS: Shutterstock and Novozymes
In their quest to develop more hard – wearing uniforms that meet the demands of modern families, Marks & Spencer turned to enzyme technology.

Increasing quality
Their Stay NewTM technology keeps clothes looking newer for longer, and comes with the added benefit that the bioblasting enzymes do not negatively impact the environmental footprint of the production. This fits perfectly with Marks & Spencer's ambitions to become the most sustainable retailer on the high street by 2015.
 
Han Kuilderd, Customer Solutions Manager at Novozymes, has worked closely with Marks & Spencer on the development of Stay New technology. "Marks and Spencer realized that by using enzymes in textile production they could create higher quality garments in a sustainable way. In the school wear market where competition is fierce, this is crucial," he says.

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Saving time and resources in production
Novozymes bioblasting enzymes gently weaken and remove protruding fiber ends that stick up from the fabric. This keeps the surface smooth, reduces pilling and ensures strong color retention, regardless of the type of dye used.

What's more, an enzyme such as Novozymes Cellusoft® Combi combines both the bleach clean-up and dyeing stages. In other words, it saves water, energy and up to 90 minutes processing time when compared to running the process before or after dyeing.

The bioblasting process takes place at pH5-7 and at the relatively low temperature of 50-60°. The combination of enzymes and mechanical abrasion from a washing or jet dyeing machine creates a permanent change to the fabric without the use of chemical coatings or the application of gases and fire.
 
All Novozymes enzymatic solutions are bio-degradable, natural proteins that act as catalysts for bio-chemical and chemical reactions. They require only a very low dosage and do not contribute greatly to effluent loads. "This was music to the ears of the Marks & Spencer team who are continuously looking for ways to reduce waste and increase sustainability," says Han Kuilderd.

Top marks for the new range
Parents may not be concerned with understanding exactly how enzymes work but they are definitely interested in hearing about school uniforms that retain their new look. That's why Marks & Spencer has taken the Stay New message to parents all over the country via a nationwide campaign in all major newspapers.

The first range of school wear treated with Stay New technology has already hit the stores – and parents seem to love it. The Marks & Spencer website is full of customer comments about how well the uniform range washes and retains its colors.

“This is not only great news for Marks & Spencer, but also for textile producers and consumers. As the benefits of bioblasting become better known to consumers, textile producers will have an incentive to use it in their production and greatly reduce the environmental impact of making clothes. It’s a win-win-win,” Han Kuilderd concludes with a smile.

Marks & Spencer Fact File
• The British retailer has over 1,000 stores in Europe, the Middle East and Asia selling clothing and luxury food products.(Marks & Spencer annual report 2012)
• Its Plan A sustainability program was launched 2007 with the goal of making M&S the world's most sustainable major retailer. At the recent World Retail Awards, M&S was named Responsible Retailer of the Year.
• 2012 revenue is GBP 9.9 bn. and the group employs 78,000 people worldwide.
• See the Stay New video:

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 Marks & Spencer cardigans StayNewTM with enzymes
 
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"Marks & Spencer quickly realized that bioblasting would give them better quality garments, and help them achieve their Plan A sustainability goals."
- Han Kuilderd
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Han Kuilderd, Customer Solutions Manager, Textile HKUI@novozymes.com

Han Kuilderd
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