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. Thanks to an enzymatic bioblasting process, UK retailer, Marks & Spencer, has recently turned this into reality.

23. November 2012
Increasing quality and sustainability
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. “By using enzymes in textile production Marks and Spencer could create higher quality garments in a more sustainable way. In the schoolwear market, where competition is fierce, this is crucial," he says.

Saving time and resources in production
Stay New technology uses Novozymes' bioblasting enzymes to weaken and remove protruding fiber ends that stick up from the fabric. This keeps the surface smooth, reduces pilling and ensures consistent bright colors. And best of all, the process can combine both the bleach clean-up and dyeing stages, which significantly reduces energy and water consumption compared to a non-combined process. It can also save up to 90 minutes processing time when compared to running the processes before or after dyeing.

Novozymes enzymatic solutions are biodegradable, natural proteins that act as catalysts for biochemical 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.

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.

Parents may not be concerned with understanding exactly how enzymes work but they are definitely interested in hearing about school uniforms that keep 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.

Top marks for the new range
The first range of schoolwear 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.

"We're seeing an increase in bioblasting in textile production as it offers better quality products to consumers, a reduced environmental impact for retailers and more efficient work processes for textile producers. That's not just a win-win situation. It's a win-win-win," he concludes with a smile.

Click here to view the Stay New ad campaign.