(Intro)Companies providing solution to textile colouration are looking to play an active role in reducing their carbon footprint of not only their but also help brands and retailers to do so by providing innovative product ranges via the bio based and sustainable chemistry, Yogesh Gaikwad, Director, SDC International. 

 As on May of 2022, the world of textile manufacturing is going through huge challenges. Rising cotton prices, rising coal prices, rising fuel prices, rising inflation including others, for some reasons these seem to be common across the globe. Our dependency on fossil fuel is getting closer to itspeak. The Ukrainian war and Covid has made matters worst. One of the solutions emerging to help the textile colouration world is the manufacturing of products based on bio sources or provide newer bio based colouration processes. The dyers and colourists have had solution from bio sources before but in recent times these are gathering mass.

In this article I would to talk briefly about such solutions.

Bio based chemical are not new to textile colourists, we have been using enzymes, printing gums (based on tamarind and guar alsoalginates from algae). With the uncertainty around fossil fuels and fluctuations in prices, chemical manufacturers are looking at nature and its waste as source of making useful speciality chemicals. Making use of the agents in nature to manufacture these chemicals is a simple solution to make these speciality chemicals, and some of the chemical manufacturers have already done this in the past. The change is now taking it to a new level where it can replace traditional way of chemical manufacturing.

To start with we have now have air planes running on fuel from non fossil fuels. The Airbus A380 takes off with 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

“This is another great example of the aviation industry coming together to work towards achieving certification of 100% SAF(sustainable aviation fuel) by 2030. Together, we’ve clearly demonstrated that an aircraft as large as the A380 can successfully operate on unblended SAF.”

François Pfindel, Airbus Head of A380 MAP

The above event marks a big change in mindset of how various industries are looking at bio-based innovations.

The textile dyes and speciality chemicals manufacturers are not be left behind and they did start the journey long before. Indigo cultivation, harvesting and extraction was very much common in India during the colonial period and some other parts of the world. In recent times natural Indigo (extracted Indigo) is making a come back and demand for them has seen a steady rise. The change is also towards pre-dyed Indigo yarn (mainly cellulosic).

One of the recent innovations was to make dyes from leaves or nutshells which were agricultural waste. This did encourage many brands and retailers to come up with separate collections using these dyes. It worked and has a decent presence in market. The fastness of these dyes was assumed to be equivalent of existing sulphur dyes. The dyeing process did not need much changes and this helped the colourists to implement the innovation readily

There has been an outburst of bio-based innovations. From enzymes to functional chemicals. Bio degradable, bio-based solutions are finding interest among processes.

Some innovations that may be of interest to colourists are:

  • Wash-down effects on reactive with special process providing similar to Indigo and Sulphur: This process eliminates need fornot so eco-friendly reducing agents and strong oxidizing agents for the wash-down effects. Manufacturers claim the process is based on biodegradable polymeric ready to use liquor solution. The application is possible in rope form, coating or printing.
  • Bio-based flame retardants (> 85%) for textile applications: They are made of renewable, natural sources and are biodegradable. These are 100% halogen and heavy metal free. Here the challenge is to obtain flame retardant properties in the most natural way, to find the right balance between safety for people and planet.
  • Softeners based on vegetable oils: Bio content of this technology is more than 85%. The manufacturers claim to have better durability and versatility in application of fibres, Hemp, cotton PES and PA.
  • Moisture management:Technologies critical for active wear are now also available in bio-based products.Manufacturers claim “This bio-based finish enables high wicking and evaporation capability which helps to evaporate water/sweat easier and faster. The technology is also > 60% (28 days) biodegradable, according to OECD 301B.”

The list goes on & on …..

Companies providing solution to textile colouration are looking to play an active role in reducing their carbon footprint of not only theirs but also help brands and retailers to do so by providing innovative product ranges via the bio-based and sustainable chemistry.

We are moving closer to a situation where most speciality chemicals needed would be available by the bio-basedroute of manufacturing. I sincerely hope this happens soon.