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“If brands pay for sustainable product, manufacturers can easily use natural dyes”

On 30 April, Sameet Dye-Chem Ltd and AMA Herbal Laboratories Pvt Ltd have extended their partnership to start a new business in the Bangladesh textile industry. AMA Herbal specializes in extract form of natural dyes that have an application on cotton, wool and silk. These dyes are certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Version IV by Control Union of Netherlands.

Yawer Ali Shah, CEO, AMA Herbal Laboratories
Yawer Ali Shah, CEO, and Co-Founder of AMA Herbal Laboratories Pvt Ltd

AMA Herbal products are exported to more than 32 countries across the world, including the USA, Europe and Asian Countries. Company’s turnover is increasing at a rate of 70-80% every year for the last three years in a row. The company is also involved in CSR activity through solely funded IAR Charitable Foundation ensuring the education, health and welfare of the society.

Recently in a conversation with Textile Today, Yawer Ali Shah, CEO and Co-Founder of AMA Herbal Laboratories Pvt Ltd, opened up some paramount issues including sustainability and dyes that can save the environment.

Textile Today: What are natural dyes, please explain briefly.

Yawer Ali Shah: The sources of Natural Dyes are three – vegetable, minerals and animals. AMA Herbal is producing commercially viable natural dyes apart from Indigo largely from discards, leftover or rinds from plants for textile dyeing which gives good color with excellent fastness property.  So it is “Best out of Waste” practice that gives us an edge and acceptability around the world.

Textile Today: Is it possible to achieve 100% replacement of chemical dyes with natural one?

Yawer Ali Shah: Natural dyes have a limitation to generate all range of color for textile dye. Because the source of natural dyes is limited to nature. Nature cannot produce all the color range/color for textile dyes.

On the contrary, synthetic chemicals have n number of color that can dye the textile. But we have a reasonable range of color from plants for textile dyeing that are commonly used by renowned retailers and brands like Patagonia, J&J, Levi’s, C&A, H&M, etc. So, we are not focused on competing with synthetic, rather we are focused on saving the environment, serving society and making the textile sector more sustainable.

Textile Today: Natural Dyes are costlier, so why will Bangladesh manufacturers use this when production cost incurred is higher than before?

Yawer Ali Shah: Regarding the cost, natural will always be costlier than chemical because it’s original, true. Now, the textile industry is looking for sustainable products which are necessary; no longer a luxury. In order to make sustainable products, the first priority should be the sustainability of the ingredients used in manufacturing.

This approach will lead them to understand the benefits of natural dye and their use over chemical dye. In short, it is not a war between costlier and cheaper; but a war between sustainable and not sustainable. Since it certainly gives them significant points in sustainability, their product will no longer be a basic material that is cheap. It is then the value-added product that deserves to get premium, that is it.

Textile Today: Which sustainable standard does natural dye follow?

Yawer Ali Shah:  We have GOTS -V, we have ZDHC, and our products comply with REACH. But to tell you the truth, right from the day these eco standards came into existence, natural dyes have passed all of them without any modifications, though we have seen most of the chemical dyes changing their formulations to make their product fit to a specific eco standard.

“We are not focused on competing with synthetic, rather we are focused on saving the environment, serving society and making the textile sector more sustainable.”

– Yawer Ali

Natural dyes are from nature and all standards are about saving of nature, so I am sure, no matter what standard may come, natural dyes will always pass and it’s a gift of God to us!

Textile Today: What kind of Effluent Treatment does natural dye effluent require? Is it the same as the effluent of chemical dye require?

Yawer Ali Shah: ETP is principally needed for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and De-colourings the water. After the dyeing process to purify the wastewater, cooling of water is required.

However, in the case of natural dyes, there is no need for cooling the water. BOD and COD are also not required because the wastewater from natural dyes is biodegradable easily in nature. Only de-coloring is needed for ETP of natural dyes. Therefore, the cost of purifying the water for natural dyes is really low and environment-friendly. That’s again very good news for the millers.

Textile Today: In Bangladesh, which industry of textile segment is showing the most interest in natural dye?

Yawer Ali Shah: Denim is the first industry, which has given us business. And there is a good reason for that. AMA Herbal is the globally No. 1 who produces natural indigo in powder form that is commercially used by world-renowned mills since 2010.

Interestingly our Bio-Indigo gives rich greener cast and brightness to denim which is very unique. Our LCA study added value to promote this product with reliable facts and data that show what we really can do. We are now focusing on garment dyeing, finishing laundries.

Actually, all the segments from home textiles to knits are showing good interest too but we will go systematically. Trial of using dyes is going on and progress has been seen.

By giving exclusive agency to Sameet Dye-Chem Ltd. our presence in Bangladesh has strengthened. They are experienced, have a good network and know well how to do, which will help us in penetrating into the market at the right time. Some success stories you will get soon.

Textile Today: Do you think, for a sustainable product, at first brand initiative is important?

Yawer Ali Shah: Yes, it is always by the customer first! Infect almost all leading brands of the world have taken the call of sustainability. We are working closely with brands to achieve their goal faster.

They have already taken this initiative of sustainability and are advising their vendors to use natural dyes to help brands in achieving their sustainable goals. We had a successful meeting with H&M, C&A and few others in Bangladesh where they ensured us of using this natural dye and encouraged us to keep the project extended. Rest also depends on consumer’s response and feedback for the volume amount of orders. Thus, society and fashion houses to take charge too.

Textile Today: What are other countries except Bangladesh using these natural dyes?

Yawer Ali Shah: Textile industry of India, China, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, Turkey, Korea, Spain have been working with us for a long time. Nevertheless, Bangladesh is known for large quantity supplies to all the leading textile brands of the world and all these brands are looking for sustainable products.

In this angle, we see Bangladesh as a big potential for our products. Educating people for using sustainable products is important and we congratulate Textile Today for educating people about sustainability and its benefits.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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