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“We need to think big.” Anjani Prasad, Managing Director, Archroma India

Anjani Pashad AchromaA leader in specialty chemicals, Archroma operates in several countries like China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Europe, US and Latin America. Headquartered in Reinach, Switzerland, the company delivers specialised performance and color solutions in over 100 countries. It provides dyes and specialty chemicals serving the branded and performance textiles, packaging and paper, and coatings, adhesives and sealants markets. Anjani Prasad, Managing Director, Archroma India elaborates on the company’s operations, its new acquisitions and focus on sustainability

Archroma India creates value by entering into long term engagements with its customers. The company offers solutions and not just products. “We may not have a strong position in commodity dyes but are well known in specialty dyes and chemicals,” says Anjani Prasad, Managing Director.

Focus on clearances and acquisitions

Aiming to be the game changer in terms of innovation and sustainability, Archroma has acquired all the necessary approvals that testify its products for sustainability. The brand has a safety lab in Mumbai where it tests every element of its raw materials. “We also make our material safety data sheet available online. Every element in this safety data sheet offers security to our customers,” adds Prasad.

Apart from product stewardship and safety, Archroma also focuses on new acquisitions. It recently acquired the textile and leather chemicals arm of Hoechst. “We also acquired BTB, a UK company engaged in specialty construction and leather chemicals,” reveals Prasad. Besides, it acquired BSF and another company Emdomen that makes high end light fast dyes for the automotive sector.

In future, it plans to acquire another BSF entity engaged in optical brighteners. “This will take us into the home care market,” notes Prasad. These acquisitions help the company to expand its operations across the country. “We try to combine our knowledge with the complexity of an acquisition before we present our products before our customer,” adds Prasad.

Product and process innovations

Archroma also launches new innovations in generic research. Prasad notes, “we offer flooring free water repellent, metal free acid dyes and also fluorochemicals based on non halogens. We have also introduced biosynthesized earth colors that are derived from nature.” For these, the brand collects wastes like almond shells and converts it into dyestuff.

Archroma also innovates on its processes. “We offer processes that reduce the overall cost of our wastewater management, productivity improvement or safety generation. Our conversion costs are better as we buy raw materials in bulk. However, we have to bear the sustainability cost of our products,” adds Prasad.

According to Prasad, the current laws in India do not encourage wastewater companies to be effective. “Instead, they compel these companies to reinvest into zero discharge technologies,” he says. Also, earlier Indian manufacturers preferred to operate from locations that have CETPs. “However, the new generation of entrepreneurs realises that you can’t have your production site next to your residence,” adds Prasad.

Another problem is that the brands undervalue the goods that they sell. Adding up all the sustainability and recycling costs, $100 jeans can be sold at $130 in the US. This can enable the brand to pay its suppliers more. However, this does not happen.

Heavy investments to drive sustainability in India

According to Prasad, India is a dumping ground for secondhand garments and other waste materials. In Gujarat, ships dump cheap clothes that are washed and sold on the streets. Such goods don’t allow brands to be sustainable. “To change things, we need heavy investments. Though customers are willing to pay for sustainable products, brands are not charging them due to their fear of losing their customer base. We need to prevent used garments from being dumped into India,” he says.

The other big problem that India faces is the lack of garmenting in the country. “We only make the fabric and export it to Bangladesh. Many Indian brands are being launched in the market. However, the industry still faces a huge cash crunch. People are not getting bank loans due to strict norms pertaining to high interest rates. Small knitwear units in Tirupur can’t compete with those in Bangladesh due to their high maintenance costs. The average size of the Tirupur garment industry is smaller than that in Bangladesh even with wastewater facilities. We need to setup of units with almost 50 tonne of wastewater facilities. We need to think big,” adds Prasad.

Prasad believes that the concept of sustainability has not been fully understood by Indian manufacturers. “If Mumbai is going to sink into the sea, what can you do? How can you ease Delhi’s smog? When you understand sustainability you can do things. For this, the whole lifecycle has to be studied,” he adds.

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