In an exclusive interview with Suhas More, Commercial Director – SAMEA, Huntsman Corporation, Textile Magazine explores the company’s ongoing strategies and plans to tackle the ‘new normal’ as forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, its role as a ‘Responsible Care Company’ and the sustainable practices the company adheres to.
As a global specialty chemical company, Huntsman is viewed as a trusted partner and a supplier of key products that are essential to industries across the world. Huntsman’s products form the building blocks for different consumer and industrial products that have daily usefulness. Its 3 divisions – Polyurethanes, Advanced Materials and Textile Effects – serve global manufacturers that produce a broad range of products.
Huntsman’s manufacturing facility in Vadodara, Gujarat, caters to the textile dyeing and finishing requirements of textile manufacturers in 36 countries around the globe. Nearly 65% of the products manufactured here are exported to USA, Germany and China.
Excerpts from the interview:
Textile Effects – Driving Innovation
Huntsman’s Textile Effects business focuses on driving innovation in textile dyes, chemicals and digital inks for brands across the globe. Our solutions provide high performance, are durable and offer enriched aesthetics to textiles including apparel, athletic wear, protective wear, home and institutional textiles, besides technical fabrics. Our offerings include coatings which provide durable water repellence, moisture management, wrinkle resistance, color fastness, and sun protection. We also have state-of-the art dyes that help reduce water and energy consumption. And we are working relentlessly towards innovative ideas that help reduce water usage as per the Indian government’s plans to cut industrial water usage by 50% in the next five years.
Expanding our portfolio of sustainable offerings, we have recently launched the High IQ® Lasting Black Eco program, under the brand’s leading HIGH IQ® brand-assurance program. This new colour retention program helps brands meet global demand for eco-friendly black shades, offering prolonged colour retention despite repeated washing.
Sustainability – Key Factor
Huntsman partners with the customers in their sustainability drive by helping them lower their environmental footprint and meeting their ecological requirements. We help them develop innovative products that are designed to ensure operational excellence and enhance resource optimization. A case in point is the award-winning AVITERA® SE poly-reactive range of dyes which help textile manufacturers reduce water and energy consumption by up to 50%, especially in cotton dyeing.
India is our largest market for AVITERA® SE in terms of sales. We also have a state-of-the-art Research and Technology center in Mumbai, where our teams develop innovative products that create value for customers not just in India but also around the world.
Launched a year ago, ERIOPON® E3-SAVE is designed to deliver significant sustainability benefits. This textile auxiliary for polyester processing has a unique polymer technology which is a combination of best-in-class performance and value. It allows the mills shortest possible processing cycle which saves them precious resources such as time, water, energy and ultimately cost and helps them comply with current and anticipated industry sustainability standards. ERIOPON® E3-SAVE has helped collectively saved more than 130 million litres of water till date.
Huntsman – A Responsible Care Company
The Responsible Care initiative instils sustainability principles into companies’ management systems. Huntsman is cognizant of the environmental, health and safety (EHS) impact of each aspect of its business – be it research and development, procurement of raw materials, product manufacturing, storage, transport, sales, product use, or recycling and waste disposal. We believe that safer products ensure safety of people and the environment. Following the belief, Huntsman’s products for the textile industry are designed to minimize water and energy usage, thus helping mills comply with various environmental standards. Our products also conform to international standards and are certified with ecolabels. We implement Responsible Care specific measures with all partners and stakeholders down the supply chain to promote sustainability of the entire textile industry ecosystem.
Sustaining ‘New Normal’ in COVID Times & Beyond
The pandemic has put an emphasis on safer and eco-friendlier textiles. Manufacturers and retailers are looking to make their processes more sustainable to provide for the highest environmental, health and safety standards and Huntsman’s advanced technologies serve the market requirement. The pandemic has further stressed on the need for effective solutions for medical applications of textiles. Our comprehensive range of barrier effects and supporting auxiliaries enable the mills to meet stringent performance requirements and achieve increased productivity. The outcome is medical protection gear with higher performance besides being comfortable for frontline workers. We also support mills with complete end-to-end systems which include pre-treatment, dyeing and finishing solutions for woven PES, CO and blends for washable and disposable PPE equipment such as face-covers and isolation gowns. We have witnessed high demand for our offerings catering to the performance requirements of woven, non-woven and knitted medical applications.
Huntsman runs training programmes with key customers and help local brands and retailers in India understand the production processes within the industry to enable them to make decisions as per their requirements. Our customer service laboratories are supported by highly experienced and technical experts across various applications. We take pride in developing and offering solutions which provide high performance and conform to the most stringent environment, health and safety standards.
Huntsman launched a product stewardship training program for customer mills and business partners several years back. We have been implementing various partnership projects with key customer mills to enhance their chemical management program. The Government of India has also been taking steps to improve sustainability of the textile industry under the comprehensive textile policy. The proposed Chemical Management & Safety Rules-2020 will bring India’s chemical regulations at par with international standards. The pandemic has slowed down the consumer textiles market but has unveiled opportunities in new markets in the medical, industrial and personal protection textiles.
The Indian textiles and apparel market is valued at US$ 100 bn and is a fast growing market contributing 7% to India’s total industrial output. With sustainability a growing need, brands are awakening to the need to adopt new means to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations, while ensuring sustained growth for their business. This presents a unique opportunity for allied industries such as textile dyes and chemicals to develop innovative solutions that help manufacturers achieve their sustainability goals and also improve operational efficiency. As per current times and requirements, companies are working towards creating innovative anti-viral and anti-bacterial fabrics and coatings to ensure better protection for our healthcare and other frontline workers. The need for research and development of new technologies in this space has become imperative, and will continue to garner industry interest in the foreseeable future.