Developer of an organic dyeing technology designed to make bio-degradable fabrics that are ethical, non-toxic, and can reduce pollution
When I first came across Colorifix, I was intrigued. Then I read into their process and I was blown away. Here's what they do.
Colorifix creates natural dyes to replace the harmful synthetics used in conventional textile manufacturing.
First, the Company identifies a naturally occurring pigment created by an organism and, via online DNA sequencing, pinpoints the specific genes that lead to the production of the color. The selected genes are then inserted into a microorganism, enabling it to produce the pigment
Leveraging fermentation, Colorifix rapidly grows the organism on renewable feedstocks. The microorganisms divide every 20 minutes, resulting in a large quantity of colorful dye liquor within just one or two days. The dye is compatible with conventional textile processes and doesn't require any harsh chemical additives.
Relative to conventional dye, Colorifix claims that its natural alternative can reduce water consumption by 49%, electricity by 35%, and C02 emission by 31%.
Headquarters: Norwich, England
Year founded: 2016
Business model: B2B
Capital raised: $36.19M
Current Valuation: $126.43M
The textile industry gets a lot of flak, and justifiable so. Staggering resource consumption, massive consumer waste, and abhorrent labor conditions - it ain't good folks. Let's break it down.
Garment production is incredibly resource intensive. Case and point: The production of a single cotton teeshirt requires 713 gallons of water - roughly equivalent to one person's drinking needs for 2.5 years (that's nuts!). At a global level, the fashion industry uses an estimated 396 billion gallons of water each year.
The water utilized in textile production is often left heavily contaminated with dyes and chemicals and accounts for an estimated 20% of global clean water pollution. In addition, plastics found in synthetic materials frequently show up in the municipal water supply, while pesticides are used to grow raw materials.
The fashion industry also accounts for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions and is a major player in deforestation and soil degradation
Western fashion companies mostly outsource production to developing counties, not only to circumvent strict environmental regulations but also to take advantage of cheap labor. Low salaries, long working hours, and a lack of safe working conditions are common.
That's just on the front end.
30% of garments are overproduced and disposed of without being worn even once. With an estimated 150 billion garments produced each year (enough to supply 20 pieces of clothing for every person on Earth), that is a staggering amount of waste. The excess production stems from a variety of misaligned industry practices that place profit over sustainability (read more about it here)
Though overproduction is a result of fashion industry dynamics, it is important to recognize the consumer's role in this. Falling prices and rapidly changing trends have contributed to a culture of fast fashion, where low-quality clothing is produced, purchased, and disposed of at an alarming rate. The average American buys 70 new articles of clothing annually, up materially from just a decade ago.
Furthermore, 87 % of clothes end up as waste in landfill or are incinerated. Though recycling opportunities have increased, globally less than 1% of clothing is recycled as clothing.
With waste at every step of the supply chain, any opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint of textile production should be readily considered.
What I Like
Adoption - When reviewing a green alternative, I pay particular attention to two things. One, is it cost-competitive? And two, is it compatible with existing processes? From what I've seen, Colorifix checks both boxes.
Environmental need - Addressing the excessive waste and resource consumption generated by the global textile industry is an environmental imperative.
Support network - Colorifix has assembled an impressive consortium of backers, notably H&M, who led their 2022 Series B round, and Regeneration VC, a circular economy-focused VC which lists Leonard DiCaprio as an LP.
What I'm Concerned About
Performance - Organic dyes have traditionally been less durable than synthetics. Does Colorifix's dye perform at parity with inorganic options?
Use cases - How broadly applicable is the dye? What materials can it be used with? Is it limited to use on organic textiles? All valid concerns that could limit the Company's addressable market.
What Do you Think?
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