How to dispose of tie dye? (5 ways to treat synthetic dyes) 

The article will explore ways in which dyes can be effectively disposed of. Other topics covered would include: 

  • What is tie-dyeing?
  • Are dyes biodegradable?
  • How do synthetic dyes affect the environment?
  • Are synthetic dyes cheaper than natural dyes?
  • How can synthetic dyes be treated?
  • How do dyes affect human health?
  • What is the case of natural dyes?
  • FAQs

How to dispose of tie dye?

Tie-dyeing is a process in which clothes are tied so that clothes may be dyed in the required colours. Dyes can be natural and synthetic. The former is biodegradable whereas the latter is not. 

Natural dyes are extracted from plant-based materials and therefore, microbes can easily and readily degrade these natural dyes. Natural dyes are more sustainable but lag at utilitarian aspects such as being expensive and less available. 

Synthetic dyes are made from chemicals. Many of these chemicals are derived from fossil fuels derivatives that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere therefore, synthetic dyes are perceived as non-biodegradable and cause environmental degradation. 

Owing to these impacts, it becomes imperative to treat synthetic dye waste. This can be done through physical, chemical, and biological treatments. The processes include techniques such as adsorption, oxidation, and filtration. 

What are the steps involved in the disposing of tie dyes?

Before we expand to the depths of related theories and principles, let us acquaint ourselves with some actionable advice and suggestions that can be opted to safely dispose of tie dyes. Regarding that, consider the following points:

  • You can dilute the dyes and drain them down 
  • You can ensure that the dyes reach treatment plants 
  • You must avoid reckless disposal of artificial dyes because these dyes may contain harmful chemicals that may result in altered BOD, COD
  • If you have die powder, you can use it for more than 3 years. It is unlikely to dispose of them. Rather, you must prefer utilising it 
  • If you are disposing the dyes in the drain, you need to be careful of the quantity too. Unsubstantial amounts may result in altered chemistry and biology of associated ecosystems. 
  • If you have chemical dyes, it is advisable to have them treated first before draining. As regards treatments, options such as homogenisation, screening, filtration, or chemical treatment may be taken refuge in. 

The above points can be introduced as the basic dos and don’ts that one must follow to ensure that his disposal of dyes is not harming the dyes in significant ways. As a rule of thumb, natural dyes are preferable as they source from nature and are less hazardous. 

However, in case of synthetic dyes, you need to be careful of the quantity. Also, you need to ensure that you have properly diluted and before that, utilised the entirety of contents. 

Are dyes biodegradable?

Biodegradation is an important parameter to assess the sustainability aspect of any material, dyes in this case. 

The question regarding the biodegradation of dyes can be dealt with through two domains. One is the biodegradation of natural dyes. The other is the degradation of artificial dyes. 

As regards the degradation of natural dyes, it is very much possible. Natural dyes are extracted from plant-based materials and therefore, microbes can easily and readily degrade these natural dyes. 

Also, it can be said that natural dyes would not have significant effects on the environment. However, the case of synthetic dyes is partly different. 

Synthetic dyes are made from chemicals. Many of these chemicals are derived from fossil fuel derivatives that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

Since biodegradation is defined by how readily a material degrades in a natural setting and how eco-friendly it is, synthetic dyes are perceived as non-biodegradable. 

However, recent research inclination has directed its attention to remediating this issue mainly because of the degradative effects of synthetic dyes on soil and water. 

Therefore, it is expected that the biodegradation of synthetic dyes will help in alleviating the problems caused by the discharge of dyes. 

How do synthetic dyes affect the environment?

It has been established that artificial dyes are made from harmful chemicals such as azo dyes. These have negative and degradative effects on the environment. 

Among the implications of synthetic dyes, there are:

  • Biological Oxygen Demand
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand
  • Altered photosynthesis 
  • Inhibited plant growth
  • Changes in aquatic ecosystems
  • Depletion of available oxygen in water bodies
  • Algal blooms
  • Deterioration of water quality
  • Pathogens in water bodies
  • Decrease in the passage of sunlight

Although synthetic dyes are cheaper and easier to process, the negative effects of synthetic dyes lead to these problems which can not and should not be factored out. 

When synthetic chemicals enter the natural system, be it soil or water, there is a change in the biology and chemistry of natural systems. 

These changes disturb the natural order and resultantly, all associated aspects are affected negatively. 

Are synthetic dyes cheaper than natural dyes?

Yes, synthetic dyes are cheaper and economically viable in comparison with natural dyes. 

Natural dyes are made purely from natural sources such as plants, trees, fruits et cetera. The process of making natural dyes is more elaborate and requires labour, energy and logistics. 

In the case of synthetic dyes, many of the above requirements are waived. As a result, natural dyes are more expensive than artificial dyes. 

This is the main reason why textile industries and local shops prefer synthetic dyes for tie-dyeing purposes. 

However, it is expected that as technology reaches further milestones of development, natural dyes will overcome this flaw and will offer a competitive advantage too. 

How can synthetic dye waste be treated? (5 ways) 

We have explored that natural dyes are better off than synthetic dyes in the context of the environment & sustainability. 

However, since synthetic dyes are cheaper and handier; most of the textile industries are affiliated and associated with the use of synthetic dyes. 

In this scenario, it becomes imperative to explore ways in which synthetic dyes waste may be processed so that such waste may not cause any harm or damage to the environment & life.

If the overall procedure of dye treatment could be broken down into simple steps: these would be:

  • Screening
  • Pre treatments
  • Homogenisation
  • Neutralisation
  • Physical, chemical and biological treatment 

The waste produced from textiles and facilities that process synthetic dyes includes some basic steps (mentioned above) so that major obstructions such as macro particles may be dealt with. 

These procedures may be called the pre-treatment procedures because these steps would facilitate the overall treatment process of waste from synthetic dyes. 

The main thing to focus on is the various procedures that can be included under the umbrella of physical, biological, and chemical treatments. 

These include processes such as:

  • Nanofiltration
  • Adsorption 
  • Chemical degradation 
  • Biological oxidation 
  • Catalytic oxidation
  • Biological treatment 
  • Combination procedures 

These processes rely on basic principles that can remove the harming capacity of dyes waste and resultantly, dyes waste can either be properly discharged or reused if deemed appropriate. 

Further, there are a number of products and materials available that can be used to treat dye water waste. This includes:

  • Carbon-based materials
  • Polymer-based materials
  • Bio-adsorbents 

How do dyes affect human health?

The negative and degradative effects of dyes are not only restricted to the environment but also reciprocate on human health

The primary reason is that these dyes are made from synthetic chemicals that may not gel well with natural biological systems. 

Examples of elements and chemicals used in dyes that could be detrimental to human health include:

  • Auxochromes
  • Toluene
  • Mercury 
  • Lead
  • Benzene
  • Chromium

Owing to these chemicals and elements, synthetic dyes can prove to be toxic and carcinogenic to human health. 

There can be respiratory conditions as well that can arise from prolonged exposure to synthetic dyes. If left untreated, there can be exacerbated health effects such as cancer. 

Exposure to these harmful dyes can also cause skin complications. The effects may include allergic reactions, irritation, change of colour, and rashes. 

The presence of elements such as lead can also lead to complications such as developmental issues, neurological complications et cetera. 

What is the case of natural dyes?

We have explored the case of synthetic dyes. Let us explore what is the reality of natural dyes. 

As the name suggests, natural dyes are sourced from natural sources that include plants and animals. 

Because of their natural sources, they are free of chemicals and also considered eco-friendly. 

Also, the use of natural dyes is not that much of a contemporary process. Dyes have been used for many centuries. 

Before we proceed further, let us see some examples of natural dyes. 

  • Turmeric
  • Henna
  • Indigo
  • Malachite
  • Cochineal 

The most common sources are minerals, plants, and invertebrates. However, the reservation associated with natural dyes is that these dyes:

  • May not be that long-lasting
  • Are more expensive than synthetic dyes
  • Are less available than synthetic dyes

Owing to these factors, natural dyes (although eco-friendly) are toppled by synthetic dyes since the consumer market is not only concerned with the environment but also with utility. 

It is perceived and prognosticated that with the development of the right dyeing techniques and better technology, natural dyes can undo these shortcomings and can be prioritised as the default dyeing option. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that tie dyeing is a process in which clothes are tied so that clothes may be dyed in the required colours. Dyes can be natural and synthetic. The former is biodegradable whereas the latter is not. 

Natural dyes are extracted from plant-based materials and therefore, microbes can easily and readily degrade these natural dyes. 

Synthetic dyes are made from chemicals. Many of these chemicals are derived from fossil fuel derivatives that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Since biodegradation is defined by how readily a material degrades in a natural setting and how eco-friendly it is, synthetic dyes are perceived as non-biodegradable. 

It is because of this reason that there are burgeoning environmental impacts of synthetic dyes such as:

  • Inhibited plant growth
  • Changes in aquatic ecosystems
  • Depletion of available oxygen in water bodies
  • Algal blooms
  • Deterioration of water quality
  • Pathogens in water bodies

Owing to these impacts, it becomes imperative to treat synthetic dye waste. This can be done through physical, chemical, and biological treatments. The processes include techniques such as adsorption, oxidation, and filtration. 

In comparison to this, we have natural dyes that are more sustainable but lag at utilitarian aspects such as being expensive and less available. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How to dispose of tie dye?

What are the health impacts of synthetic dyes?

Owing to these chemicals and elements, synthetic dyes can prove to be toxic and carcinogenic to human health. There can be respiratory conditions as well that can arise from prolonged exposure to synthetic dyes. If left untreated, there can be exacerbated health effects such as cancer. 

Exposure to these harmful dyes can also cause skin complications. The effects may include allergic reactions, irritation, change of colour, and rashes. 

Which dyes are more frequently used?

Synthetic dyes are more commonly used because these dyes are inexpensive and easily available.

References

  • Zollinger, H. (2003). Colour chemistry: syntheses, properties, and applications of organic dyes and pigments. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Hunger, K. (Ed.). (2007). Industrial dyes: chemistry, properties, applications. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Chavan, R. B. (2013). Health and environmental hazards of synthetic dyes. Textile review magazine, May, 15, 12-17.
  • Yusuf, M. (2019). Synthetic dyes: a threat to the environment and water ecosystem. Textiles and clothing, 11-26.
  • Hill, D. J. (1997). Is there a future for natural dyes? Review of Progress in Coloration and Related Topics, 27, 18-25.
  • Saxena, S., & Raja, A. S. M. (2014). Natural dyes: sources, chemistry, application and sustainability issues. In Roadmap to sustainable textiles and clothing (pp. 37-80). Springer, Singapore.

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