Staying Ahead of the Curve

Sustainability-related topics are becoming a priority for government regulators and the buying public, and the global apparel and textile industry is embracing cleaner and more transparent supply chains. Innovative chemistries play a key role—both to ensure brands and mills can adhere to current restrictions on dyes, chemicals and textile articles and to help them stay ahead of the curve with products that anticipate future rule changes and trends.

A new approach

Recent years have seen a proliferation of global and regional legislation, voluntary standards and testing schemes related to chemicals in the textile supply chain.

At the same time, we have seen a shift in the industry’s approach to chemicals management. Brands and mills today continue to test finished goods against relevant Restricted Substances Lists (RSLs) while also increasingly seeking to prevent unwanted chemicals from entering the supply chain in the first place through Manufacturing Restricted Substances Lists (MRSLs).

An enduring focus

Huntsman Textile Effects has long supported this broader approach and championed greater transparency.

in the rain

 We have collaborated closely with organizations like bluesign® and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation to help popularize the input-stream approach and the adoption of a unified MRSL. We provide our customers with compliant chemistries and confirmation about substances of concern in relation to our formulations. And we work with textile mills to enhance their chemical management capabilities for better health and safety in the factory and improved competitiveness and business success.

Beyond all of this, our focus remains on investing to develop new chemistries that ensure compliance and production improvements today and anticipate future restrictions. As a leading dyes and chemicals innovator, we help our customers stay ahead of the RSL/MRSL curve.

Anticipating tighter aniline restrictions

Preparing for future regulatory change with the launch of AVITERA® SE in 2010, we became the first to introduce a range of reactive dyes free from restricted arylamines, including para-Chloro Aniline (p-CA), at the current detection limit of 5 parts per million (ppm).

In 2019, when OEKO-TEX® tightened the limits for aniline on textile articles under its voluntary certification system STANDARD 100, our customers could rely on LANASET® Brown B-NA – an aniline-free dye that allows for the production of polyamide and wool articles without any risk of exceeding the new limits.

We have also continued to add low p-CA formulations across our portfolio:

  • We introduced the low p-CA NOVACRON® Black NN ECO in March 2018 to enhance the sustainable and cost-effective dyeing of medium-to-dark and very dark shades for cotton and other cellulosic fibers. It can be used to produce textile articles with no detectable p-CA, when applied as recommended, going beyond arylamine restrictions under STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, bluesign® and major textile RSLs.

  • We launched LANASOL® Deep Black CE-R NEO and LANASOL® Black CE ECO in November 2020, bringing low p-CA options to the LANASOL® family of wool dyes to comply with the most stringent standards. Indeed, we have led the market by providing a sustainable alternative to after-chrome dyes for wool for more than two decades.

Leading the shift to PFC-free chemistries

Recent years have seen new legislation in the EU, US and China targeting the use of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), commonly used in durable water repellents (DWRs), as well as a lot of activity in the industry’s voluntary schemes.

Couple Backpackers hiking

As the chemistry has shifted from long-chain C8 PFCs to short-chain C6 PFCs, and more recently to fluorine-free “C0” technologies, we have led the way. Huntsman Textile Effects voluntarily ceased the production and sale of C8 products in 2015, years before the chemical was widely banned, and popularized pioneering PFC-free DWR products like Chemours’ ZELAN® R3, which contains 60% plant-based materials, and the PHOBOTEX® range.

Steering the industry in this performance benchmark, Huntsman Textile Effects introduced the PHOBOTEX® R range in 2010 as our first modern C0 DWR and followed this up in 2017 with PHOBOTEX® RSY for extreme DWR performance.

In June 2022, we raised the bar once more with the release of PHOBOTEX® R-ACE. A breakthrough PFC-free DWR, it delivers excellent water repellence and wash durability on high-performance outdoor and extreme sports apparel and everyday wear. Besides meeting stringent environmental standards, PHOBOTEX® R-ACE also optimizes production flow. It offers best-in-class runability and excellent compatibility with resin finishing and minimizes chalk marks, seam slippage issues and harsh handle.

Furthermore, the new PHOBOTEX® R-ACE is formaldehyde-free, as well as free from 2-Butanone oxime, which has recently been re-classified in Europe and will be restricted above a strict limit in products under bluesign® from mid-2022.

Working towards a formaldehyde-free future

Transparency standards

 Huntsman Textile Effects has made similar strides in the development of finishes that support the elimination of formaldehyde from the supply chain, where achievable. Formaldehyde-based products are now coming under greater regulatory scrutiny worldwide. For example, the substance is not allowed as an intentionally added ingredient in formulations under Version 2 of the ZDHC MRSL.

As a leader in this field over the past decade, and more, our breakthroughs include the formaldehyde-free KNITTEX® FFRC, which imparts an easy-care finish to cellulosic fibers and blends. A favorite with babywear brands, it can be used on knitted fabrics without adversely affecting shape retention and has a minimum impact on whiteness.

Forward-looking innovations

Other forward-looking developments out of the Huntsman labs include: 

  • UNIVADINE® E3-3D: a diffusion accelerant that enhances the diffusion of disperse dyes and improves on-tone levelling and migration for fast, defect-free dyeing of polyester and its blends. Leading the industry by being free of benzyl benzoate and other hazardous substances, it can be used to treat fabrics that meet the latest requirements of bluesign® and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).
  • CLARITE ® PRO: a new technically advanced all-in-one phosphate-free bleach processor designed for the pre-treatment of cellulose and regenerated-cellulose fabrics. It has an improved low-foam profile and low viscosity, making it easy to use and reliable in all processes and suitable for automatic dosing systems.
  • ULTRATEX® UHS: a high-compatibility softener that delivers a soft, smooth and wrinkle-free feel to polyester and synthetic-based fabrics and can be used on cotton, too. It has been developed to be low in cyclic siloxanes (D4/D5/D6 silicones) in accordance with updated REACH SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) limits, bluesign®, GOTS and most major MRSLs.

With these and other new formulations now in development, our research and innovation teams are considering what is happening in terms of current regulations and standards and also thinking ahead to what may happen in the future. Our aim, as always, is to enable customers to stay ahead of the market and to help them minimize operational disruption as they meet rising demand for safer textile products.