To answer this question, it’s important to understand what low-impact dyes are NOT. Conventional synthetic dyes are not referred to as “high-impact”, but they are pretty scary. 60-70% of dyes in the world are known as ‘azo dyes’, and contain carcinogenic heavy metals such as chrome, copper and zinc, as well as toxic substances such as Formaldehyde and Dioxin. 10-25% of textile dyes are lost during the dyeing process, with up to 20% being discharged into waterways. In the textile industry alone, up to 200,000 tons of these dyes are leaked into waterways each year.
Low-impact dyes are fibre reactive dyes that do not contain any known toxic chemicals or heavy metals, require less water and have an absorption rate of at least 70%, creating much less waste water than conventional synthetic dyes. These dyes are ceritifed by the OEKO-Tex 100 standard, and in some cases even the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
These dyes are recognized as the “best available technology” in textile dyeing, however they have their downsides in our eyes. Low-impact dyes are still synthetic, and are produced from petrochemicals. The effluent is still highly alkaline, and if not treated properly can be harmful to waterways. TAMGA is looking critically at our whole supply chain and looks forward to continually improving how we use colorants.