During the recent Shilpa Sena exposition organized by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Unilever Sri Lanka together with the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) and Dynawash Limited unveiled ‘T-hues’ – A revolutionary natural dye that will change the way clothes are colored within the garment manufacturing industry.
This initiative falls under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, a proprietary project with the goal of decoupling the company’s growth from environmental impact, while increasing its positive social impact. The plan has three big goals that by 2020 will help improve people’s health and well-being, reduce the company’s environmental footprint, and enhance livelihoods across its value chain.
This convergence of purpose to reduce organizational carbon footprints resulted in the partnership of Unilever, SLINTEC and Dynawash to explore the creation of natural dyes using a by-product which is generated during Unilever Sri Lanka’s instant tea manufacturing process. Over 40 metric tons of Broken Mixed Fannings (BMF), is used every day as a Raw material at Unilever’s Ceytea instant tea plant located in Agarapathana. The BMF is first filtered, waste segregated post extracting the soluble, evaporated, and subsequently spray dried to obtain the base ingredient to produce tea dye in powder form. This tea dye is then transformed into color palettes as per customer requirements.
In light of this revolutionary initiative, Anusha Kotalawala, Factory Manager, Unilever Ceytea Instant Tea Factory, Sri Lanka had this to say, “I am sure that this technologically advanced method to upcycle our waste product for use as a dye will be a stepping stone for all manufacturers to reconsider their carbon emissions in order to work in a more sustainable manner. It gives us great pleasure to know that by participating in this initiative, the carbon footprint of both our industries can be significantly reduced.”
Principal investigator of the invention, Prof. V. M. Thadhani, Senior Research Scientist, SLINTEC voicing her thoughts said, “The concept of utilizing waste material from Unilever’s instant tea manufacturing process as a raw material for apparel dyeing will be a sustainable alternative to the chemical dyeing used for garments. Work on the project commenced in 2016 with Prof. Gehan Amaratunga of the University of Cambridge, UK and the intellectual property of the invention is owned by SLINTEC. We are pleased to see responsible organisations such as Unilever and Dynawash leading this agenda.”
Shahid Sangani, CEO Dynawash had this to say, “The Global Apparel Industry is currently undergoing a paradigm shift with a big push from the Global Brands to make the Apparel Supply Chain Sustainable under the ZDHC initiative. We are very proud to contribute towards this effort through our collaboration with Unilever Sri Lanka and SLINTEC in developing a Sustainable Natural Dye from Tea Waste – T Hues. In the conventional form, fabric dyeing through the use of synthetic dyes results in a total greenhouse gas emission as high as 2287g and 1855g respectively for Acid Dying and Reactive Dying per Kg of Garment. Switching to T Hues, has reduced the CO2 equivalent by 34% and 76% respectively”
With Unilever’s commitment to provide the waste BMF off their production lines for this initiative, the collective requirement of steam, electricity, chemicals and other factors required to dye fabrics within the garment manufacturing industry will see a significant reduction. This is directly proportional to the reduced percentage of related carbon emissions.
As a true reflection of their corporate values, Unilever will continue to lead the agenda of making sustainable living commonplace in Sri Lanka.