The use of natural dyes for textile dyeing operations is of growing public interest. It is hoped that application of natural dyes could lead towards improved sustainability in parallel with reduced consumption of energy and chemicals. This requires careful consideration of each particular source for natural dyes and the corresponding application procedure is required to ensure the attempted optimum in the quality of a certain dyeing. Production of natural dyes by direct farming cannot be expected to result in a substantial replacement of synthetic dyes because the high costs of the plant material will hinder broad application. The overall properties of the dyeings (colour and fastness) are limited, and the energy consumption and mass balances are not convincing.
However, wastes from the food and beverage industries can make a substantial contribution to improving the use of natural dyes, enhancing sustainability and achieving a better cost structure. The brilliant colours of the dyes that can be obtained by extraction of wastes from fruit, berries and vegetable processing are of significant importance in the formation of a class of plant dyes that covers a broad range of colouristic shades. These wastes are released at a high quality level, in technically useful amounts and at very low costs. Standardisation of such materials could be achieved with the appropriate investment. Extraction with water will not prevent further use of the extracted waste, which is a fundamental requirement in the handling of such huge amounts of extracted plant wastes.
Further research is required to improve the quality of the dyeings to the level set at present by synthetic dyes. In particular, research activities will be needed:
• to improve the fastness properties, e.g. light fastness;
• to supply dyehouses with natural-dye-containing wastes of standardised quality;
• to supply dyehouses and textile manufacturers with the information required for marketing activities.
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