Our world is filled with colors. From clothes to automotive and furniture, all products come with different hues, inks, and vibrant paints. In the clothing industry, colors are a medium of expression. In the construction industry, colors define the outlook of the building. Colors are a vital part of our lives and colorants have become a major industry that has been evolving for years.

Colorants are either dyes or pigments. Dyes are water-soluble colored organic chemicals and paints, ceramics, polymers, and inks contain pigments that are insoluble chemicals. The construction industry, food industry, and clothing industry are major end users of the colorants. According to Allied Market Research, the global colorants market is expected to reach $86.9 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% from 2021 to 2030. Surge in the building and construction industry and the advantages of colorants in various industries drive the market growth. The rise in demand for pigments from the automotive and textile industries supplements the market growth. Over the years, novel technologies have entered the market. From maintaining a supply chain to helping customers in picking the color for their home, technology has improved the colorant industry.

Technology has now allowed us to develop an entire color palette digitally without using a single physical sample. For instance, Chromalfo Technologies, a major supplier of colorants, announced to launch of a new mobile app, the Colorant Explorer. This would help customers search for different coatings, thermosets plastic colorants, and paints. The company focuses on developing color technology solutions for architectural, industrial, and thermoset plastics applications. With the help of the company’s new app, customers can browse color specifiers and formulators from neutral and chromatic color wheels. Moreover, they can visualize colors in space and offers all the information regarding colorants at their fingertips. The app will reduce the customer time to market by streamlining the colorant selection process.

Food additives and colorants are widely used in the food industry to enhance food quality and safety during storage, processing, and packaging. There are various ways to source colorants–by natural sources, bio-production, and chemical synthesis. Natural sources and chemical synthesis are widely used. However, the rise in awareness regarding sustainability and surge in demand for natural products has increased the demand for colorants derived from bio-production methods. The production of bio-based food additives and colorants depends on extensive research, which is a growing trend in the food industry. The potential use of microbial hosts for colorant production is a key topic of discussion among researchers.

The textile industry has been one of the major end users of colorants. However, it is among the most polluting industries as well and colorants are major contributors. The use of non-biodegradable petroleum-based colorants and synthetic dyes are causes of global water pollution.However, the demand for sustainability and strict environmental regulations have forced companies to look for sustainable ways to manufacture colorants. The extraction of colors from biodegradable plant sources is a viable alternative that has gained popularity in the textile industry. Although some toxic fixation agents need to use with such biodegradable colorants, textile companies are now using several ways to manufacture sustainable colorants.

For instance, ColorZen, a colorant and dye manufacturer, has developed a technology that pre-treats cotton before it is spun, which makes the dyeing process faster and reduces the water by 90% and energy consumption by 75%. Moreover, this technology uses 90% fewer chemicals that are otherwise used in the dyeing of cotton. The dyeing process of textile varies from fabric to fabric. Another company, AirDye uses dispersed dyes that are applied to the paper carriers. With the heat, AirDye transfers dye from the paper to the textile. In this process, 90% less water is utilized and the paper can be recycled. Moreover, the process demands 85% less energy as textiles are not soaked in water over and over.

Apart from these companies, several start-ups have launched new ways to manufacture colorants and dye textiles in a sustainable way. However, these technologies need to be used on a larger scale. Thus, it is imperative to invest in sustainability-driven start-ups to meet the sustainability goals and make the colorant industry greener. While several major clothing brands have declared their sustainability goals and made collaborations with different companies to shift toward sustainable practices, more and more companies must use sustainable ways to manufacture products to save the limited resources of our green planet.

Author Name: Swamini Kulkarni

Author Bio: Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel and daydream about her areas of interest.