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Archroma Debuts Aniline-Free Indigo

Color and specialty chemical firm Archroma is offering a solution for the aniline in denim issue. The company introduced a new aniline-free indigo dye that promises to provide a non-toxic way to produce the traditional indigo blue color associated with denim and jeans.

Until now, aniline impurities are unavoidable in dyeing indigo denim. The chemical is locked into the indigo pigment during the traditional dyeing process and therefore cannot be washed off the fabric.

Scientific testing has shown that aniline impurities are toxic to humans and can cause skin allergies, damage to major organs and genetic defects, as well as being linked to cancer. Aniline is also toxic to aquatic life, which is an issue as two-thirds of the 400 metric tons of aniline waste on an annual basis ends up in the environment as wastewater discharge, Archroma reported.

The presence of aniline in denim is increasingly under scrutiny as clothing brands and retailers are adding the toxic chemical to their restricted substance lists (RSL). Aniline was a hot topic last year at Kingpins Transformers, where speakers predicted further investigation into the toxicity of the chemical.

“We have tested denim garments and found that aniline concentrations are frequently higher than expected,”Archroma CEO Alexander Wessels said. “This could put some manufacturers over the limits agreed on their RSLs.”

Archroma worked with R&D experts to formulate the aniline-free alternative called Denisol Pure Indigo 30 dye. Archroma tested the dye at Absolute Denim mill in Thailand. “During the testing everything performed exactly the same as it would with conventional indigo,” Vichai Phromvanich, a board member for manufacturer Absolute Denim, said. “There was just one important difference: no aniline.”

Archroma has pledged to make Denisol Pure Indigo 30 dye in the most sustainable way possible. The new dye will be produced in Archroma’s facility in Pakistan, an award-winning “zero liquid discharge” plant. Compared with conventional indigo dyeing, Archroma said an optimized process with Denisol Indigo 30 can offer up to 60 percent less sodium hydrosulfite and up to 50 percent less sodium hydroxide.

“As a responsible industry leader, we believe it’s important to actively look for eco-advanced solutions that are attractive and at the same time cost-efficient for clothing brands, retailers and end-consumers,” Wessels said.