They were once considered robust work trousers, but now it's hard to imagine shop windows without them. But jeans are not only in demand, but above all one thing: a real environmental problem. On average, up to 65 liters of water are used for the special washing of the trousers.
Innovation award for water-saving process
Thomas Klink from Salzgitter Lebenstedt thought it was time to change something and developed the water-saving Droptima process. "When we wash jeans, we use 80 percent less water. That's 60 percent less energy because we don't put water in the machines," he explains. The jeans are only sprayed. The friction of the pants against each other then ensures the wash effects.
Klink worked on the prototype together with his son Gregor for a good four years. It has paid off: His business partner Amer Azeem now produces 5,000 pairs of trousers a day in Lahore, Pakistan, using the more environmentally friendly process.
The Federal Ministry of Economics is also convinced of the creative idea and awarded it the German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment. According to the ministry, the technology from Salzgitter can save a good 140 billion liters of fresh water. After all, the production of jeans has increased significantly in recent years due to the fast fashion trend. Around 150 million pairs of jeans are produced worldwide every month.
Conventional production is harmful to the environment
But how did Thomas Klink come up with the idea for the procedure? For almost 40 years, the owner of a family-run laundry has traveled through Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia on business. However, he did not like what he saw there: "The water contaminated with chemicals is simply left on the fields. Some of the willows had grown completely blue from the indigo." The quality of the already scarce resource water suffers.
The Droptima process not only saves water, it also uses 70 percent less pollutants. Thanks to a recycling system, they also do not end up in the environment. Because the water used is clarified and reused.
An innovative idea that Klink could patent. But he deliberately refrains from doing so – more environmental protection in jeans production is more important to him: "I want other companies to copy us as quickly as possible." If the procedure catches on, lovers of jeans will be able to buy jeans without a guilty conscience in the future.