TERI and Biosfera: Help us make the organic textile dye industry reality!

published at 07-06-18, by Marieke Xia

Annually, the global textile industry goes through 700,000 tonnes of dyes. In India, those chemicals all end up in the Gangus River. These dye agents are polluting the water and damaging the ecosystem. To counter continuous pollution, Biosfera and Teri are looking for partners/knowledge with regard to biodegradable mushroom pigments as natural textile dyes.

About TERI and Biosfera

TERI does research on sustainable development of India and the Global South. Their policies and technology are mainly focused on natural resource management, with key focuses on promoting clean energy, water management, pollution management, sustainable agriculture and climate resilience. This research institute has changed lives, and changed the environment over the last few decades.

The Biosfera Foundation is a (technological) knowledge collective that has their key focus on Smart Ecosystem Engineering (SEE). Natural ecosystems are smart, but human-developed ecosystems are not. By creating top-notch technology and spreading awareness, they strive to make human ecosystems fit within natural ecosystems. This will lead to a better natural ecosphere that can support all life on earth.

The Gangus, the resource for everything

The Gangus, who’s watershed stretches 2,225 km, plays a key-role for food-production and security, wellbeing and liveability and the cultural and religious facets of life for millions. Globally, we consume around 30 million tonnes of textile each year, and the annual growth is expected to be 3-4%. After China, India had the second largest textile and apparel industry in the world. These textile factories dump their unfiltered toxic dyes into the Gangus, which poses severe pressure on the water-quality and the ecosystem as a whole.

The project Cleaning the Ganga: On a sustainable textile dye mission

Most initiatives geared towards cleaning the River Gangus focus on filtering out these toxic dyes to reduce and prevent the textile industries’ negative impact on the Gangus River. This method works, but is investment intensive, technologically complex and calls for customized solutions on a factory-to-factory basis.

Biodegradable dye pigments made from mushrooms

A pilot using mushrooms (amongst others: species of Cortinarius, Sarcodon imbricatus and Boletales species - Images below) for extracting biodegradable, non-toxic dying agents for wool and silk was already successful. The pilot including the regional dissemination of growing mushrooms and applying the dyes in an the industrial grade process. After color extraction, the remaining mushroom biomass can be used for other value-added materials such as food supplements and vegetal leather.

Looking for pilot/kennis partners

Since we have already had a successful pilot program, we are now looking for ways to generate a larger scope and increase the production capacity. Therefore, our challenge focuses on two parts:

1. We want biodegradable organic dye pigments that can be locally produced in India, on an industrial scale;

  • Cultivating the mushrooms;
  • Extracting the color from the mushrooms.

2. As an incentive for factories, we are inviting fashion and textile brands to join this challenge and support the use of these dyes.

Are you interested in using these natural dye agents, an expert in the field of (urban) agriculture/horticulture, or can you help us in any other way? We are happy to hear from you! Contact Daniël Lipschits (lipschits@biosferafoundation.com) or add a solution/comment below.

Cover photo: Wikipedia. 

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The most recent progress

12 Jun 2018.

- Reaction

Hi Daniel,Dear Mr Shishir Goenka,
Great initiative! as you maybe already know: we are working with a large consortium on implementing a new circular textiles technology in India (and maybe also in Sri Lanka).
Please contact Pals Brust for more details.
Another tip could be to contact the secretariat of the Dutch covenant on sustainable textiles, representing all the large retailers in The Netherlands: https://www.imvoconvenanten.nl/garments-textile

08 Jun 2018.
Set up by
Senior Director
CSR-expert & business developer
Sector Manager Food & Agribusiness at MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands)
program manager Sustainable Chemical Business

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