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Special Focus | March 2019

Dyes & speciality chemicals: Prospects & problems

The environmental changes happening globally have brought many restrictions on using certain types of dyes and chemicals in textile industry, says Avinash Mayekar.

Fashion has become an inevitable part of our lifestyle today. It is not only limited to our dressing capabilities but have gone much beyond that. From the decorum of living rooms, office spaces to showroom interiors. Even the food we eat is presented fashionably today. This era of flaunting on social media has brought out the best of creativity in terms of appearances and colours. Today’s fashion demands variations of colours and so the palette of seven shades are experimented to bring out the best, be it the bright colours, the matte looks or shiny glossy effects on our clothes and furnishes. These variations are not at all possible with the help of natural dyes, so we must agree that they are due to innovations in the chemicals and dyes.

This penetration of dyes and chemicals is not restricted only to the visual appearances. Today, the chemicals have also developed to provide finishes that can increase the performance parameters and capabilities. From stain-resistant garment, fire-retardant finishes for work wear, high-performance delivering, anti-perspiring suits for athletes to geo textiles having invariable strength. These technical textile applications are penetrating the market with a rapid pace demanding various types of colour fixations methods using high end chemicals.

All these innovations are towards the betterment, however in an attempt towards improving one thing, we often end up in damaging the natural balance. The environmental changes happening globally have brought many restrictions on using types of dyes and chemicals in textile industry. In an attempt of using cheaper substitutes of chemicals to get impressive prints, we have rounded ourselves up in an environmentally hazardous situation. Earlier, requirement of dyes and chemicals were directly linked to the cost and hence, many people then would prefer inferior quality of dyes and chemicals just to be cost effective. Whereas, now with latest development better quality of dyes and chemicals are getting used to get appropriate dyes and prints on fabrics or garments.

The concept of sustainability is not something new; its importance is known for ages however, the steps towards it are only seen recently. The rising awareness of environmental hazards among consumers and the stringent government regulations is the major reason for forward steps by manufacturing units towards sustainability. There is a rise in the use of organic chemicals and speciality dyes, and the manufacturers have started preferring branded dyes and chemicals. Apart from R&D in chemical finishes a lot of innovations are also happening in methodology used in conventional textiles. Today we can see more use of digital printing over conventional printing involving use of innovative dyes and chemicals. Similarly, instead of mere fabric printing there is an exponential growth of garment printing reducing the effluents coming out of textile industry. The major task of textile industry for getting environmental clearance is reduced by these new techniques and innovative organic dyes and chemicals.

In 2017-18, India exported $2.12 billion of textiles dyes and chemicals and it is expected to reach $2.18 billion in 2018-19 increasing with a CAGR of 5 per cent. The market for textile chemicals is highly fragmented with the majority share being held by the unorganised/minor players. However, the share of organised/major players is expected to expand by 2019 as a result of the growing preference for quality products as well as high market penetration of technical textiles. The major manufacturers in this segment are Rossari Biotech, Huntsman Corporation, Archroma, DyStar group, SF Dyes, Colorband dyestuff, Indofil Industries, Nova Dyestuff, Spectrum Dyes & Chemicals.

Globally in terms of value the textile dyes and chemicals market reached $7.34 billion and is projected to reach $9.82 billion by 2022 with a CAGR of 6 per cent as reported by Business wire. The increasing demand for fibre dying is driving the market growth. The recent growth in viscose segment and it’s comparatively ease in dyeing process is one of the major factor for the forecast growth.

Still, when we think of environment, we must use natural dyes wherever possible with minimum chemical use. This is a big challenge; hence we must explore the possibility of reducing use of heavy dyes and chemicals to minimise the effluents generated. We must think of recycling and reusing the discharged effluents. Zero liquid discharge is now mandatory in most of the States in India.

The various natural dyes that can be thought for bringing into full time operations are Bolinus brandaris (Tyrian Purple) it is a bromine-containing reddish-purple natural dye. Woad was an important source of indigo dye. Indigofera tinctoria, also called true indigo, is a species of plant from the bean family that was one of the original sources of indigo dye. Kermes is a red dye derived from the dried bodies of the females of a scale insect in the genus Kermes, primarily Kermes vermilio. Rose madder is the commercial name sometimes used to designate a red paint made from the pigment madder lake. Logwood was used for a long time as a natural source of dye. It remains an important source of haematoxylin, which is used in histology for staining.

Conclusion

A day might come when we will not use anything other than natural dyes; it’s a long road of innovations but a journey worth exploring for our mother earth. This will take us back to the old original era of using natural dyes, and fixation will also happen by a natural process.

Innovation, which takes technology and the nature together, is the need of the hour. Simply stopping and switching back to the old era of using natural dyes is not quite possible, we can, however, find solutions where we rely less on artificial chemicals and focus more on re-engineering our natural resources to get the desired results. Organic chemicals, eco-friendly dyes, technology like zero liquid discharge are one step towards it, so all that is needed is to bring more such solutions by keeping economy of scale in mind. The other most important aspect is acceptance and adaptability. On one end the manufacturers should adapt the technology for the betterment of our world, and on the other side, the consumers must compel them by switching to garments that are in compliance with the environment and the government should also come up with stringent regulations for its implementations.

The article is authored by Avinash Mayekar, who is MD & CEO of Suvin Advisors Pvt Ltd.

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