Saturday, July 02, 2011

Organic cotton to cloths

Cotton is one of the most chemically intensive among all field crops. Cotton is grown on an estimated 3% of the total cultivated area in the world, but uses about 25% of all insecticides consumed in agriculture. Pests are such a serious threat to cotton production that economic yields are almost impossible to achieve without monitoring pests and adopting chemical controls. Plant protection operations have become the crucial
aspect of production practices and pesticides that are banned for use on food crops are commonly used on cotton. In many countries, especially where cotton is machine picked, herbicides, insecticides, growth regulators and harvest aid chemicals in addition to fertilizers are integral parts of production practices. Even after harvesting, cotton fabric at textile mills is treated with a variety of chemicals for improving appearance and
performance. Cotton fabrics are often processed with toxic dyes and formaldehydes before they reach end users. Growing cotton without synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals has been termed green, environment friendly, biodynamic, etc., but organic production is the most popular name used in the cotton industry. Organic cotton production is a system of growing cotton without synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, conventional synthetic insecticides, growth regulators, growth stimulators, ball openers or defoliants. It is a system that contributes to healthy soils and/or people. The organic system promotes enhanced biological activity, encourages sustainability and commands proactive management of production. Thus in this paper we are discussing about the organic cotton production and its processing.
Initially organic word was used in food industry to insure the hygiene nature of food items. But due to increasing environment related issues this word also used in textile industry. These days not only organic cotton, also organic wool and silk are hot issues. Some facts: Many chemicals used in conventional farming were first developed for warfare. A source says that 25 million people worldwide are poisoned by pesticides every year. 25% of the pesticides and fertilisers used in the world are sprayed in conventional cotton crops. Over 0.75 kg of toxic chemicals are used to grow the cotton needed for a conventional cotton sheet set and about 0.5 kg to make a T-shirt and pair of jeans. Among all the pesticides used, roughly 65% of the chemicals are used against insects, 20% are herbicides, 14% are defoliants and growth regulators while fungicides and others comprise only 1% of the total toxic chemicals used on cotton.
What is Organic Cotton and what is the difference between Organic and Conventional cotton?
Conventional cotton is grown on the soil with agricultural chemicals and synthetic fertilizer and pesticide and chemical spray is used to defoliate for harvest.Organic cotton was grown without any synthetic chemicals. Harvest has to occur on soil at least 3 years after the most recent use of a prohibited material. Soil’s organic content is managed by crop rotation, cover cropping, manuring and/or composting. Weed management is by grazing shallow cultivation and also includes crop rotation, cover cropping, mulching and smoother cropping. For insect management instead of using agricultural pesticide, extensive use beneficial organisms such as parasites, predators and pathogens are used. Farmers wait until the first frosts to give plants natural defoilation to harvest.
Although raw cotton is organic, chemicals used during the process of finishing are manufactured carefully from raw cotton to the end products in accordance with organic guidelines. Hydrochloric or Sulfuric acid, adhesive or glue bonding agents or synthetic dyes are never used. Instead materials such as hot water , low impact and biodegradable anionic, citric or acetic acid are used. For bleaching, polishing, Color brightening and softening, hot water, protease, lipase, amylase and cellulose enzymes are used and chemicals such as chlorine, sodium chlorite are never used.
Garments made of organic cotton shrink some because no chemicals are applied to prevent shrinkage. Garments are made slightly larger in sizes, considering some degrees of shrinkage after wash. Detergent without bleach that easily dissolves in water is recommended to be used. For eg. Detergent called “ Multiple soap “ made of coconut is very good.
Warp yarn is sized with starch and would around a beam like an oil drum. For sizing, usually chemical starch is used but in the case of organic cotton, natural starch like corn starch is used.
Reasons for organic cotton production : Organic cotton production is also a consumer driven initiative. There are many harmful chemicals that people do not know about. Twelve of these chemicals are known as persistent organic pollutants or POPs, which are the most hazardous of all man-made products or wastes that cause deaths, birth defects and diseases among humans and animals. They are so dangerous that 120 nations agreed at a United Nations Environment Programme conference to outlaw them. Of the 151 signatories to the convention 98 states have ratified it; sadly the United States and Russia have not yet done so. There are three of those chemicals used in cotton manufacturing. The following are the main factors responsible for organic cotton production:
What Makes Organic Cotton Different?
1. It starts with seeds:-If you think that conventional and organic cotton starts out the same way, I’m sorry to tell you you’re wrong. Actually, conventional cotton farmers don’t just start out with approximately 70% GMO, or genetically modified organism, seeds, but they also treat their seeds with fungicides and insecticides before planting. Organic farmers, however, use only untreated, non-GMO seeds for their cotton harvest.
2. Soil and Water: Where Cotton Grows Up:- Maybe the seeds are a little different, but they’re planted in the same earth and fed the same water, right? Wrong. Conventional cotton is planted in synthetic fertilizers, and there’s actually less soil because of a predominantly mono-crop culture. Incidentally, conventional cotton production requires intensive irrigation, adding wasteful water management to conventional cotton farming’s list of flaws.
Organic cotton farming, on the other hand, already has strong soil because of annual crop rotation, so no additional fertilizers are needed. The cotton crop also retains water more efficiently because of increased organic matter in the soil, which means organic farms play an important part in water conservation efforts.
3. Keeping the Weeds at Bay:- Weeds can certainly be a crop’s worst enemy, so there’s no question they have to either be removed or destroyed. The conventional method calls for inhibiting weed germination by treating the soil with herbicides, a method that often requires several treatments to be effective. Organic cotton farming, however, requires that weeds be eliminated physically, not chemically. Organically, weeds are controlled exclusively through cultivation and hand hoeing.
4. Proper Pest Control:-Because conventional cotton production readily uses insecticides as its primary method of pest control. Additionally, aerial spraying is a frequent method of distributing the chemicals and potential drift can be lethal. Organic cotton production, however, avoids pesticide use altogether. On organic cotton farms a balance between pests and their natural predators is created through the presence and maintenance of healthy soil. Organic farms also uses beneficial insects instead of insecticides to control pests.
5. From Harvesting to Your Home:- Before the cotton crop can be harvested it must defoliate or be defoliated, meaning the leaves must come off. In conventional cotton farming this is done almost entirely with, you guessed it, more chemicals. In organic cotton farming, however, chemical defoliation is not an option, and farmers rely mostly on the seasonal freeze for leaf removal. If the season proves to be unreliable, organic farmers might turn water management as a defoliation stimulant.
Organic cotton certification:- For certification,. Harvest has to occur on soil at least 3 years after the most recent use of a prohibited material. All the organic fibre we use is inspected ad certified by TDA or IFOAM accredited agencies, such as Skal, Imo and Agreco. All of our organic fabrics are produed from certified organic cotton.
The process to make these organic cotton into fabric sheets:- The cotton used is grown organically. This means that the seeds must be non-genetically engineered. Insects are controlled by methods that stimulate what occur in the natural environment, where ‘good’ bugs eat ‘bad’ bugs. There is also be an emphasis on keeping plants healthy-healthy plants are more resistant to infection-fields are usually weeded by hand. Organic farm are not allowed to use any chemical fertilizer or chemical inputs, such as herbicides or other pesticides. These standards are set forth by the international federation of organic agriculture movements (IFOAM).
The organic cotton for our organic cotton sheets and duvets are grown in three developing countries-India, turkey and Uganda on family farms that range in size from 2-250 acres. After the cotton has been picked, it is ginned to remove the seeds from the cotton fibre (lint).The lint is then baled and send to the mill where it is spun into the yarns, witch is then woven into fabric. It is the state-of-art facility with computerized looms and best spinning equipments available. Just as important, the facility is ISO 9002 certified-witch speaks well for both the quality of production and its labor and environment practicesAt the mill, the cotton is carded so that the fibers are aligned. It also separate out the longest and strongest fibers from the weaker, shorter fibers.
The carded cotton is then ring spun into yarn.Next the yarn is woven in to fabric. To do so it is immersed in a wheat starch solution, a sizing. This makes easier to weave.
From here the actual chemical process begins where the serious precautions are required:- In this process we removes the starch cleans softens, and then pre shrunk the fibre so it feels and looks finished. Some of the fabrics are put through a hydrogen peroxide bleaching process to whiten it .up until this point neither our cotton fibre, yarn nor fabric has come into contact with any chemicals. A number of chemicals are used in the various steps of finishing and dyeing only chemicals that are approved by certifying agencies, both in US and Europe are used.
Per – shrinking is a wholly non chemical process that involves pulling and stretching the fabric using the fabric rubber pads and steam. Pre shrinking molds the fabric to its final measurements. Befor going for details of various processes first we see the list of various banned and approved chemicals given by varios agencies for the processing of organic cotton.
List of chemicals Allowed and Prohibited for overall process of organic cotton
Allowed Chemicals
Name of material Status Annotion
Acetic Acid Allowed Non-Synthetic forms only
Adhesive bonding Agents Allowed 21 CFR 175.105 and 176.170(b)
Aluminium silicate Allowed
Aluminium sulfate Allowed
Carbon dioxide Allowed
CMC Allowed Can be used only on products labeled “made with organic” constituents.
NaOH Allowed For hydrogen Peroxide or ozone bleaching, mercerizing, or scouring only.
KOH Allowed See NaOH
Chelating Agents Allowed Non-synthetic forms only
Citric Acid Allowed
Clay based scours Allowed Must not be formulated with petroleum solvents or other prohibited materials.
Cleaning compounds Allowed Any USDA/EPA cleaner(except Quaternary Ammonium compounds)approved for use provided equipment can be rinsed down to eliminate any resulting residue
Copper Allowed When used as formed metal sheets to prevent transposition of metallic ions
Dyes, plant or animal based Allowed Cannot contain other prohibited Substances. May contain GRAS listed ingredients
Dye, synthetic Allowed Can be used only on products labeled”made with organic” constituents. Must meet OECD and ETAD limits on biodegradability and toxicity as listed in Appendix of these standards.
Enzymes Allowed Cannot derive from GEO’s
Flow agents Allowed Non-synthetic forms only
Hydrogen peroxide Allowed
Iron Allowed When used as formed metal sheets to prevent transposition of metallic ions
Knitting Oils Allowed Must be water soluble
Mined minerals Allowed Cannot be subjected to further processing
Nitrogen Allowed
Oxalic Acid Allowed
Ozone Allowed Cannot be produced by passing ionisation radiation through water
Sewing Thread Allowed May be produced from cotton or PET
Soap Allowed Ammonium soaps prohibited
Soda Ash Allowed
Sodium silicate Allowed
Softeners, fatty acids and their esters Allowed
Softeners, poly ethylene Allowed Allowed with products labeled as ”made with organic (specified constituents”.
Starch Allowed Plant starches only. Cannot produced from GEO’s
Surfactants Allowed Emulsifiable and biodegradable forms only. Cannot contain alkylphenol ethoxylates or petroleum based materials.
Tannic Acid Allowed
Tartaric Acid and cream of Tartar Allowed
Tin Allowed When used as formed metal sheets to prevent transposition of metallic ions
Weaving oils Allowed Must be water soluble
Yarn Waxes Allowed Must be animal or plant based or water soluble

Prohibited Materials
-MES Prohibited Methyl ester sulphonate
AOX – absorbable halogenated hydrocarbon Prohibited Or substances that can cause their formation
Alkylphenol ethoxylates Prohibited
Aromatic solvents Prohibited
Chlorine and chlorinated compounds Prohibited Includes organo- choloride carriers
Flow agents Prohibited Synthetic forms
Fluorocarbons Prohibited
Formaldehyde Prohibited
Functional chemical finishes Prohibited Includes but not limited to: chemical finishes for anti microbial, anti- crease, soil resistance, flame retardance, hydrophobic or hydrophilic coatings
GEO Prohibited Includes materials used in the allowed 5% non-organic ingredients and processingaids.
Halogenated compounds Prohibited
Heavy metals Prohibited See ETAD agreement
Ionizing radiation Prohibited
Optical brighteners Prohibited
Pesticide, synthetic Prohibited
PVA Prohibited
Quaternary Ammonium compounds Prohibited
Sewage sludge Prohibited
Silicon (softeners) Prohibited

All the chemicals used in this process are water soluble. An amalyase removes the wheat starch sizing. Two detergents, and an anionic surfactant and the other a fast wetting agent, clean the fabric. A defoamer controls the sudging of the detergents soy lecithin is used to soften the sheets at the end of the process. Whitened fabrics are also treated with sodium silicate. A sequestering agent and stabilizer that aids the bleaching process. Caustic soda removes the natural wax from the yarn and activates the peroxides. A non- ionic surfactant acts as a cleaning agent and silicate dispersant. Bleach (hydrogen peroxide) whitens the fabric.
Technologies adopted:
(1). Use of Enzymes as much as possible instead of harmful chemicals.
(2). Replacement of hazardous chemicals with ecofriendly chemicals.
Use of Enzymes as much as possible instead of harmful chemicals:- Enzymes are large protein molecules, and like other proteins, they are made up of long chains of amino acids.They accelerate the rate of chemical reaction without themselves undergoing any permanent chemical change.Enzymes catalyse reactions under comparatively mild reaction conditions, such as temperatures below 1000C, atmospheric pressure and pH around neutral.Although the enzyme is not consumed in the reaction, it does lose its activity over time and so eventually needs to be replenished.
Mechanism of Enzyme action:- The active centers in the enzyme such as fissures holes, cavity, pockets or hollows from complex with the substrate in lock and key mechanism.Enzymes only accelerate the reaction.Enzymes works under two conditions: Hydrolases - split molecules and Synthetases - join them.
Types of Enzymes:
Sr No. Enzyme Name Substrate Textile Application
1 Amylase Starch Starch Desizing
2 Cellulase Cellulose Stone Wash- Bio Polishing
Carbonization of wool
3 Pectinase Pectin Bio- Scouring
4 Catalase Peroxides Bleach Clean up
5 Lipases Fats and oils Improved Hydrophilicity of Polyester in place of alkaline hydrolysis
Enzymatic Desizing:- Desizing is done to remove the size from the fabric. It is carried out by treating the fabric with chemicals such as acids, alkali or oxidising agents. Amylase Enzymes are widely used as a desizing agent. Enzymes breaks the starch into more easily biodegradable short chain carbohydrates without damaging the fabric.
Bio- Scouring:-Enzymatic Scouring is also called ‘Bio-Scouring’. Enzymatic Scouring gives a fabric with a high and even wet ability.Today, highly alkaline chemicals caustic soda are used for scouring.These chemicals not only remove the non-cellulosic impurities from the cotton, but also attack the cellulose leading to heavy strength loss and weight loss in the fabric. Loss of strength and weight is reduced to a great extent by using Enzymatic Scouring. Also with Enzymatic Scouring BOD, COD and TDS are reduced to very low level as compared to that as scouring carried out by using caustic soda.
Finishing:- By using Enzymes in textile finishing sector reduce water usage by about 17–18%, cost associated with water usage by 50–60%.Textile mills may cut water consumption by as much as 30–50% by using Enzyme.
Bio-Polishing:- Bio –Polishing gives the fabric a smoother and glossier appearance. Cotton and cotton blend fabrics contain small cellulosic micro fibrils. Cellulase enzymes are used to remove these fuzz/pills, imparting softness/smoothness to the fabric, imparting gloss/luster to the fabric. Cellulase enzymes are capable of degrading cellulose by performing a specific catalytic action on the 1, 4-linkage of two beta-glucose residues of the cellulose molecules.
Denim Finishing:- Many garments are subjected to a wash treatment to give them a slightly worn look; example is the stonewashing of denim jeans. In the traditional stonewashing process, the blue denim was faded by the abrasive action of pumice stones on the garment surface. Now a days, denim finishers are using a special cellulase. Cellulase is used for ‘Bio-Stonewashing'. A small dose of enzyme can replace several kilograms of pumice stones. Reduction in fabric strength can be controlled to within 2-7% by terminating the treatment after about 30-40 minutes using a high temperature or low pH 'enzyme stop'.
Application in E.T.P.:- Zeneca Environet is currently pioneering one approach to this problem which involves direct microbial attack on the azo-linkage of organic dyestuffs, leading to their complete degradation in solution.
In this method of processing, we can use certain chemicals which are non- hazardous in place of the harmful chemicals which increases the effluents. We can use the dyes which are free from the aromatic amines and use of certain chemicals such as Acrylates for starch, fatty alkyl Sulphates for alkyl benzene sulphonates and cellulose enzymes for the complexing agents.
There is a continuous research going on in this field to have a green technology in the processing of the organic cotton. Some of the technologies which are to be used are: Plasma Technology and Dyeing with supercritical Carbon- dioxide.
We think that the health problems are becoming the hot issues now a days and to get rid of there should be ecofriendliness in all the fields. Hence the green technology is very important and Organic cotton has a big value in life as cotton is considered as the king of all the textile fibers.
CONCLUSION:-The concern for a life devoid of the use of extremely harmful toxic chemicals, the need for an eco-friendly industrial and agricultural culture and an increasing awareness of depleting natural resources and the consequences therein; these are factors which are shaping the lifestyles of people worldwide. It is in this context that the relevance of organic cotton becomes important.
Organic cotton is not only better for our bodies but better for our environment. It makes a world of difference in the health and comfort of our people, especially those with allergies, asthma, or multiple chemical sensitivities. Especially infants can enjoy the purest softness, comfort and strength of cotton while diminishing the harm to our environment because what is toxic to you is 15 times more toxic to a baby. Not only do these synthetic pesticides pollute our air, water and soil, but they jeopardize our future.
The conventional cotton farming takes an astonishing amount of the responsibility for contaminating our planet by using a full quarter of the pesticides worldwide. Twenty thousand deaths can be accredited to poisoning by farming pesticides; three million people suffer from chronic health problems reported by The World Health Organisation. We know it's alarming!
Er Manwinder Singh Giaspur (9818020236)
Prop. technogrip products
Giaspur Ludhiana 

1 comment:

  1. Finding information on cotton production can really help to come up with a useful marketing strategy. Do you know any good resources?