The eco-friendly dyeing technology for silk, which involves feeding dyed mulberry leaves to silk worms so that they produce colored cocoons, has a long way to go before it becomes commercially viable, say industry experts.
According to a statement issued by American Chemical Society (ACS), there is an eco-friendly method of dyeing silk, which involves feeding dyed mulberry leaves to silkworms so that they produce already dyed fibres. The leaves are just dipped or sprayed with dye.
While speaking to Fibre2Fashion, Sayam Sengupta Ph.D., Chemical Engineering and Process Development Division, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune said, “We have not yet fully evaluated if the technology will make the entire silk dyeing process eco-friendly. Let’s not claim too much! This technology can be a break-through innovation and it can prove eco-friendly for the silk dyeing industry, but there is a mountain to climb before it translates into a successful technology.”
"To list a few challenges: The dyes need to be non-toxic, they should preferentially color the fibroin and the color fastness properties need to match the color silk produced by traditional dyeing. Above all, the economics needs to work out in favour of this process. If all of these are successful, this could prove to be a process that can eliminate dyeing of silk, which is known to be a polluting technology,” he adds.
Echoing him, Adam Mansell, Secretary, Silk Association of Great Britain says, “Currently, this has no commercial or practical interest whatsoever, and is purely a novelty idea although it may have some scientific interest. It is possible that it could have an impact if the technology is proved to be successful and economically viable, but this seems a very long way off.”
He remarks that it is doubtful that this approach will have a beneficial impact on the environment, as presumably dyes will still need to be used in producing the dyed mulberry, and there is also a question over how consumers may react to this approach.