A natural dye project for textiles from India has received global recognition at World Economic Forum, Davos. It has been selected among the ten best development initiatives in the world addressing economic growth, social development and environmental protection.
The project on "Promotion of Natural Dyes in Textile Industries for Environmental Improvement and Sustainable Livelihood" is an ICEF (India-Canada Environmental Facility) project and one of the three selected from all over Asia by the UN supported global agency SEED (Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development).
Five from these ten will get the prestigious Seed Awards which will be announced at the forthcoming UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in May, said Director ICEF M Satyanaryana.
"We will now document the lessons learnt from the project for wider dissemination so that this initiative can be scaled up and replicated not only in India but other parts of the world," he added.
The project is being implemented by Punjab Durrie Weavers, Mumbai, with partner organisations like Natural Dye Resources, Sawantwadi, Kalamkari Research and Training Centre, Xavier Institute of Management, Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology.
Chairperson of Punjab Durrie Weavers Ann Shankar, involved in a project to provide income to widows of Punjab through weaving durries, she found traditional natural dyes had been discontinued and only synthentic dyes were being used which were not only garish, environmentally polluting but were exposing women to toxic chemicals.
The solution lay in natural dyes but there was no sustainable supply of genuine natural dyes. The processes of dyeing through natural process was very time consuming and did not give fast colours.
This project is an outcome of her effort to determine if natural dyes could be obtained on a large scale on a sustainable basis, technology could be upgraded to improve fastness and artisans made adopt it.
She has succeeded in all her aims in this pilot project costing Rs 6.2 crore but which has now to be scaled up.
"We have identified hundred plants from western ghats as dye source and all shades and colours are now available. Found in leaves and fruits they are a sustainable source," she added.
The fastness rate is better than synthentic dyes and colours have been tried on different materials like cotton, silk, wool, nylon, acrylic, and polyester.
The Kalamkari Research and Training Centre, is training artisans in yarn dyeing from Pochampally, Sambalpur, Kanchipuram, Venkatigiri, Mangalagalagiri and Srikalhasti.
The Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology under ICAR have tested the use of natural dyes and found them meeting the required standards, said Dr Bosco Henriques, Chief Functionary of Natural Dye Resources.
The cost of natural dyes is around Rs 275 per kilo compared to Rs 150 per kilo for synthetic dyes, but the cost of natural dyes will come down as volumes increase besides providing enormous environmental and social benefits, he added.