Today, polyester accounts for over 45% of world textile consumption and over 2.5m tons are used to bottle water each year. The majority of this will end up in landfill. Polylactic acid (or PLA) is a renewable, degradable polyester which is being developed to help address this environmental problem.
Coloration of PLA is a significant issue and Richard Blackburn, a colour scientist at Leeds, has with colleagues formed a spin-out company, Dyecat, which has developed patented technology which combines the production and coloration of PLA, removing the need for wet-dyeing. This process delivers superior wash fastness in addition to environmental benefits.
In addition, the Company is developing ammonia-free permanent hair dyes which incorporate natural materials. It is also working on technology which removes dyes and other chemicals from effluent.
The Innovation Fund invested £10,000 in the project at a very early stage. Dyecat has subsequently received significant development funding from a range of sources.