From an idea to a trade product ready for marketing: Plant dyes for the textile industry.

Short Description




The ultimate goal of the existing project was the creation of prerequisites for the industrial scale use of plant dyes1 in the textile industry. In addition, specific goals were defined and processed with the methods of the multi-criterial decision analysis, specialized research in an interdisciplinary team, expert interviews and with procurement of experimental data. On the supply side, a raw material procurement concept was established, dye-prototypes were developed, the technical conversion of plant dyes in factories was studied and the technical requirements for a plant-dye-supplier were specified. On the demand side, market research for plant dyed textiles was accomplished to derive marketing recommendations. Additionally, a ready-to-dye kit including vegetable material as source of dyestuff was developed and different quality labels for textiles regarding dyeing were analyzed.

The residual materials from the food and the wood-working industry for plant dyeing are available in sufficient quantities. However, at present the usual practice is to compost the residuals without incurring high expenditures. Solely with beetroots there exists an incentive to find a new disposal method, as disposal costs are very high at present. With all other residual materials the costs of disposal accrue due to the additional preparation and manipulation steps.

The development of dye-prototypes took place with emphasis on dry or humid raw materials. The dye-prototype consists of a defined quantity of cut up and dried plant material, which is filled up in cellulosic bags. For standardization of the raw material, a method was implemented, during which an optical comparison of the conformity of the plant dyed material with the sample is conducted. For plant dyes from grape parings (anthocyane), a parameter could be found, which allows a photometric determination of the color concentration. The preparation of the technical conversion for the operational use was accomplished and optimized on a technical standard on different coloring machines and optimized for different substrates. It is therefore possible to establish standards and develop a system. As long as coloration attempts and market establishment take place, the color standardization is accomplished at the coloring enterprises. The Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics offers the necessary technical support.

The following methods are recommended as possible marketing measures:

  • Create confidence in the fastness (light -, rub -, wash - and sweat -fastness). A possibility therefore is offered through quality labels.
  • Promote natural dyeing and its color palette.
  • Promote the sources of the raw materials.
  • Promote the high quality of the products regarding to higher prices.
  • Communicate the personal emotional advantages: Exclusivity, naturalness; plants come from nature.
  • Naturally dyed textiles are not "eco-freak" products. Therefore, naturally dyed textiles should not be defined as "eco-textiles" since consumers associate negative emotions with the term "eco" (baggy clothes).
  • Use existing positive associations with skin compatibility and negligible environmental impact, e.g. for textiles, which are worn on the skin (T-shirts, underwear, nightdress).

As a marketing instrument, a ready-to-dye kit including vegetable material was established. This kit includes all necessary elements to conduct first coloration attempts with plant dyes. Additionally, it is our intention to communicate the functioning and the easy implementation of the coloring method of plant dyes to dyers and other interested parties.

Project Partners

Project management

Dr. Erika Ganglberger, Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut für Angewandte Umweltforschung

Project partners

  • Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Bechtold
    Institut für Textilchemie und Textilphysik der Leopold-Franzens Universität Innsbruck
  • Gregor Jasch
    PlanB Werbeagentur GmbH
  • Mag.a Andrea Grimm
    Studiengang Produkt- & Projektmanagement
    Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt für Wirtschaft und Technik Ges.m.b.H
  • Karl Wais
    Karl Wais GmbH-Gemüsegrosshandel
  • Ing. Josef Pusch
    Winzergenossenschaft Horitschon
  • Dr. Erhard Puschautz
  • Dr. Wolfgang Schwald
    Fa. Rauch Fruchtsäfte Ges.m.b.H & Co
  • Alois Gölles
    Gölles Schnapsbrennerei und Essigmanufactur GmbH
  • Johannes Gutmann
    Sonnentor Kräuterhandels GmbH
  • Ingo Mangold
  • Peter Bischof
    Bischof Strickwaren KG

Contact Address

Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut für Angewandte Umweltforschung
Seidengasse 13, A-1070 Wien
Dr. Erika Ganglberger
Tel.: +43 (1) 5236105 / 33
Fax: +43 (1) 5235843