When I think of enzymes, I immediately think of the digestive enzymes I’m supposed to take before consuming any gluten or dairy. Anyone else with me? But why we take digestive enzymes is the exact same reason enzymes are used to replace hazardous chemicals in many denim processes! Digestive enzymes help break down the food your body has a hard time breaking down itself, and when you dissect what is really going on a bit further, the enzymes are just speeding up a natural chemical process. So, how are enzymes being used in denim today? Instead of using harsh bleaches and toxic chemicals to get our beautiful faded looks, enzymes are used to help eat away at the indigo. I had the chance to ask Serdar Demircioglu, Sales & Marketing Director of Kaiser Tekstil, a few questions about enzymes and how they created their enzymatic bleaching solution that is being used at many sustainable denim brands and manufacturers today.
WHAT DO ENZYMES REPLACE? DO THEY ONLY REPLACE CERTAIN CHEMICALS, OR WHOLE PROCESSES?
Enzymes are nature's tools and catalyst. We use them to catalyze chemical reactions, enabling milder processes and save time, energy and water. As many know, one of the main concerns of the finishing process in denim are the hazardous and toxic chemicals which are historically used in the laundry applications such as Potassium Permanganate (KMn04) & Sodium hypochlorite (NaClO2). As people started to discover its dangers on ecosystems, marine life & human systems, most brands now have some restrictions on the usage of those chemicals. Our new generation enzyme (Lava Cell NSY) provides a unique enzymatic bleaching solution for local and full bleached looks while maintaining durability, making it an ideal potassium permanganate and sodium hypochlorite (aka bleach) replacement. All of this saves time, water, chemicals, and energy! Beside the environmental and safety benefits, the Lava Zyme NBF bleaching system provides usage advantages, as well. It doesn’t require heat activation after application and is easy to apply meaning less greenhouse gasses emitted in its application. Enzymes are already widely used in the denim industry as a replacement for different chemicals, but more or less the whole laundry process can be done with enzymes. The only missing part was the bleaching part and that’s where we have focussed our attention with the Lava Zyme NBF bleaching concept.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO DEVELOP YOUR WATER-FREE ENZYME INNOVATION AND WHAT INVESTMENT WAS NEEDED?
We developed the product during the pandemic period and it took more than 6 months. Since the product works in waterless conditions, we had serious challenges and made many formulations and trials in order to achieve best possible results.
We intended for Lava Cell NSY to be very simple to use, which required much brainstorming, collaboration and thought. The reason why it is a revolutionary product is due to the simple use of the product and the fact that it does not require any specific machinery investment for the application. Once the garment is wet, that’s enough for the application!
The product accelerates the mechanical abrasion of Denim at room temperature in waterless conditions and provides stonewash effects on some denim qualities without using pumice stones.
This was a daydream 10 years ago in the denim laundry world, but we are in a different time thinking about what we are leaving to our future generations.
WHAT PARTNERS WERE INVOLVED TO CREATE THE ENZYMATIC ALTERNATIVE TO THE TRADITIONAL CHEMICAL PROCESSES? WHY ARE YOUR PARTNERS SO IMPORTANT?
Our investment together with our partner machinery companies, enable us to isolate the spraying system, which makes the process 100% safe for the workers without risks of inhalation. So, the Lava Zyme NBF concept is not only the replacement of dirty chemistry with a cleaner and greener one, it also protects the health of the workers.
WERE THERE ANY MOMENTS YOU FELT LIKE IT WASN’T POSSIBLE? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME YOUR CHALLENGES?
It took a long time for us to create the bleaching enzyme concept for the laundry market. It was just an idea several years ago and came up from one brainstorming meeting with enzyme Producer Company and it was a kind of dream at the beginning. After creating the product, another challenge was the application method and we have done so many trials with new technology injection type closed machines and succeeded. Last challenge was the local application method for the replacement of permanganate and for this challenge we have worked with machinery companies in order to create a closed spraying system where the humans and robots are working together. System is isolated. No humans are spraying. Product as itself is enzyme and biodegradable in the environment. We have never given up and we have dreamed of a more sustainable future with the collaboration of our partners and now we are much closer to this future.
Thank you Kaiser for helping us understand how enzymes work and their potential for denim! Like my digestive enzymes allow me to indulge in things that would normally cause harm to me, enzymes allow us to indulge in bleached designs without the toxicity. But, as you can see, it takes passion to develop these alternatives and not only that - time, money, and strategic partnerships. Can you see why sustainable alternatives cost more?
Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT and always be curious! 🤗
For those looking to use enzyme processes…
BONUS: How can these enzymes be applied for the best possible results?
Old formulated enzymes have worked in a limited pH and temperature range but our new generation enzymes provide a wider pH and temperature working profile so we are able to use the enzymes in different working conditions while achieving the best results.
Enzymes can be used directly by putting it into the water with classic laundry machines or injecting it in the closed tumbler with new ultra low liquor machine types.
It also works with our latest developed water free enzyme concept (Lava Cell NSY), where we use the sprinkle method on the wet garments. We are the first laundry auxiliary provider company who used the enzyme with a local spraying method as an alternative to potassium permanganate and hold the expertise to help you reach your laundry sustainability goals.