Interview with Michael Harari

Face2Face
Michael Harari
Michael Harari
CEO
ColorZen
ColorZen

There's a desperate need for our technology in India

ColorZen's technology is a revolutionary pre-treatment of the cotton fibre that makes the dyeing process both efficient and environment-friendly. The company's proprietary technology allows for up to a 50 per cent reduction in dyestuff with 97 per cent dye retention. CEO Michael Harari sheds light on the company's avant-garde pre-treatment technology and the latest developments.

How did the idea behind ColorZen's breakthrough technology born?

ColorZen was born out of an encounter between a textile chemist in North Carolina and a New York City entrepreneur, and designed to provide a solution for the serious pollution and water problems that have long troubled the fashion industry. The standard cotton dyeing process is inefficient and requires huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy, leaving behind toxic wastewater. ColorZen's founders believed there had to be a better and safer way to dye cotton.

What is the difference between the conventional cotton fabrics dyeing versus using ColorZen?

Cotton and dye are both negatively charged, and thus repel each other. When the ColorZen process is applied to raw cotton it reverses the cotton's charge; so, the dye quickly locks into place like two magnets. This allows the cotton to absorb far more dye during the dyeing process, and eliminates the need for the toxic chemicals that are otherwise required in traditional dye baths. For example, if you treated 1,000 pairs of dark blue cotton pants with ColorZen technology, during the dyeing process you would save:
  • 16,600 liters of water
  • 26 kWh of energy
  • 216 kg of chemicals
ColorZen's environmental savings can be calculated by using our savings tool on the homepage of our website, www.colorzen.com 

What technology does ColorZen use for sustainable cotton dyeing?

ColorZen applies a revolutionary safe treatment to raw cotton fibre to make the dyeing process significantly more efficient and sustainable.

Is the process patented? Where are your manufacturing facilities located?

Yes, the process is patented.

ColorZen partnered with Jabil, the world's third largest contract manufacturer, to build its plants and manage global manufacturing operations. We opened our first facility in 2017 in the United States. ColorZen treats the fibre in that facility and ships it to the spinner, which produces yarn from the treated fibre, which is then dyed by dye houses. ColorZen is a "plug and play" technology, fully compatible with all existing dyeing equipment, meaning that the process can happen anywhere and is not restricted to our US facility. For example, we recently worked with one of our customers-a large vertical mill in Peru-treating their US cotton fibre in bulk, which they are now producing in their Peruvian dye house.

What is the difference in prices? Is dyeing with ColorZen more expensive than the traditional way?

It is important to first point out that no new capital investment is needed because ColorZen is fully compatible with all existing dyeing equipment. This "plug and play" capability distinguishes it from many other technologies and makes it much easier to adopt and scale widely. While our treatment adds an upfront cost to the raw materials, garments made with ColorZen allow for an even better quality product, with a net lower cost than similar conventional products today.

Which major companies and brands use ColorZen? Do you have any clients in India?

ColorZen is working with several large international brands and retailers, as well as with manufacturers and dye houses, who are now producing millions of garments using ColorZen. While we cannot name them yet, we hope to announce them later this year. We are also currently working with several large vertical mills in India, and in final stages of pilots with 15 mills around the country for both knits and wovens. The demand we've seen in the region is a clear indication of the desperate need for this technology in India, and we are well positioned to meet that demand.

Is the look, finish, colour-fastness of cotton dyed using ColorZen the same as the conventional dyeing techniques?

Extensive testing by ColorZen and third parties has shown that the colour quality and colourfastness in fact often surpasses garments dyed with conventional techniques, all while achieving massive environmental and cost savings. In addition, the unique properties of ColorZen technology allow for endless creative designs in heathers, stripes and other novelty patterns that would otherwise be constrained by cost and lead times.

Since the wet treatment is done to bales of raw cotton fibre, does it alter the state of the fibre, yarn or fabric? Do you use special dyes or inks?

Once again, this points to the very low barrier to entry for ColorZen technology. ColorZen cotton can be dyed with nearly all existing industry dyestuff and dye equipment. While ColorZen's treatment modifies the molecular structure of the cotton to a positive charge, it does not materially change the properties of the fibre or final product. The process can in fact remove much of the cotton trash during treatment, allowing for a cleaner raw material for the manufacturer to use.

Can the process be applied to other natural or MMF too? Are you working towards it?

Yes, this technology is dynamic and very much a platform for all cellulosic fibres. While cotton dyeing is the main focus, we have multiple R&D projects in motion now with very promising early results.

What is next for ColorZen?

We are working with more spinners and dyers across the world, while establishing working relationships with several leading brands and retailers. We expect that ColorZen-treated garments will be available in stores later this year.  As we continue to scale up globally, we are confident that ColorZen will create even more significant operational, financial and environmental benefits for textile / fashion industries. And most importantly, it will provide life-saving benefits for families and communities around the world. (HO)
Published on: 29/05/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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