We focus our R&D investments and efforts on developing new chemistries that ensure compliance with current standards and relevant Restricted Substances Lists

Nitin Soni is a dynamic and multifaceted business leader having proven expertise in Global Business Development, International Business, scaling up businesses at Startups, and General Management. He has global commercial, business development and sales leadership experience in Specialty Chemicals Industry; Paints & Coatings; Textile Dyes, auxiliaries and Intermediates. Mr Nitin Soni is the Commercial Director of Huntsman Textile Effects South Asia. Recently team Textile Focus had a conversation with him and key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-

Nitin Soni Huntsman
  Nitin Soni, Commercial Director- South Asia, Huntsman Textile Effects

Textile Focus: With the industry facing rising sustainability demands and regulatory change, how does Huntsman help its customers address these evolving challenges?

Nitin Soni: Sustainability has always been top of Huntsman Textile Effects’ agenda, and over the past two years, we have seen almost all of our strategic buyers and partners making this a priority. We are proud to continue to be an agent of change that champions transparency and works closely with textile mills and the brands that are their customers.

We focus our R&D investments and efforts on developing new chemistries that ensure compliance with current standards and relevant Restricted Substances Lists while also delivering production improvements today and anticipating future restrictions and trends. Key areas for us include water and energy saving and waste management. We are also at the forefront of the transition to fluorine-free durable water repellents, and we have introduced a monthly newsletter to help industry players keep up to date in this fast-shifting landscape.

But it is not enough for mills to just stay ahead of the curve and improve their bottom line. As a leading dyes and chemicals innovator, it is our role to help our customers find ways to serve different end-use markets and capture market share.

Textile Focus: What should mills do to stay competitive yet realize their green aspirations?

Nitin Soni: We are proud to have worked with many leading textile and apparel companies in Bangladesh through our longstanding Productivity Improvement Program (PIP) and Sustainability Improvement Program (SIP) initiatives. Under the PIP/SIP framework, we draw on all of Textile Effects’ application and technical expertise and share insights into regulatory and legislative developments. The aim is to help mills and brands leverage their existing plant, equipment and personnel to optimize operational efficiency and costs, safeguard employee health and safety, and stay ahead of regulatory developments and evolving consumer trends.

However, I think it is very important to appreciate that sustainable solutions do not necessarily add costs and lead to more expensive end-products. Our groundbreaking AVITERA® SE dyes, for example, dramatically reduce the dyeing and washing-off cycle and generate water and energy savings of up to 50%—helping mills cut costs when dyeing cotton and cotton-polyester blends. Similarly, our ERIOPON® E3-SAVE textile auxiliary shortens polyester processing time by 25% or more and saves up to 50% of water and energy by combining pre-scouring, dyeing and reduction clearing in a single bath.

Textile Focus: What opportunities do you see for the Bangladesh market in particular?

Nitin Soni: As a key partner in the textile value chain in Bangladesh over the past five decades, we are very proud to be part of the country’s ongoing development as a textile and apparel world leader. We believe strongly in optimizing the entire ecosystem to create shared value, and this is where we see growth for Bangladesh.

With more green RMG (ready-made garments) factories than any other market, Bangladesh has prioritized environmental and workplace safety and reduced water and energy consumption. This level of leadership in sustainability positions Bangladesh to take advantage of opportunities in key markets, such as the European Union and North America where eco-conscious millennials and Gen Z consumers are driving demand. Sustainability is now a new norm for the textile and garment industry; those that fail to invest will be eliminated over time.

What’s important next for Bangladesh is diversification and differentiation. This is about new apparel categories, like sportswear and lingerie. It’s about textile products that are not just free from harmful chemicals and produced in ways that are better for the planet, but that also resist fading, staining and odors, so they look good and perform better for longer. This is how mills create value, enhance their competitiveness and open up new markets and market segments.

Textile Focus: Can you share some examples of how changing consumer preferences create opportunities that mills in Bangladesh can capture?

Nitin Soni: Casual Wear is a high-growth segment worldwide as people prioritize looking smart yet being comfortable in the ‘new normal’. This is creating opportunities for brands that can meet customer need for eco-friendly garments that are as long-lasting and easy-care as they are elegant and comfortable. Blended polyester-cotton fabrics are increasingly popular and can meet this need. The blended fabrics are highly versatile and deliver a balance of cotton and polyester combined. To capture new business, mills must deliver on-trend blended polyester-cotton fabrics with sought-after effects like wrinkle resistance and quick drying.

Mills that can offer sustainable dyeing of polyester-cotton have a natural advantage as brands turn to this fibre type for improved cost-effectiveness. The AVITERA® SE FAST process is designed to lower the environmental impact of dyeing polyester-cellulose blends dramatically. Using a combination of Huntsman’s TERASIL® W/WW disperse dyes and AVITERA® SE reactive dyes, it reduces processing time by 25% or more, cuts CO2 and effluent emissions by up to 50%, and enables water and energy savings of up to 50%.

The Home and Hospitality sector is also trending upward as patrons return to hotels, spas, and gyms worldwide. We are seeing strong demand for premium towels and bed sheeting with good sustainability, which makes Bangladesh a favoured location. Mills need to master fluorescent whitening technologies for very high and brilliant whites. Choosing the suitable dye to achieve intense long-lasting color, even when towels and sheets are bleached for hygiene purposes, is also essential.

The sports and outdoor market is another sector booming worldwide as interest in wellness grows. Top sportswear brands are already sourcing from Bangladesh, with massive exports around the FIFA World Cup and other significant events. Winning in the Performance Apparel sector rests on being able to offer brands eco-friendly textiles with outstanding performance, including the growing use of fabrics made of recycled polyester (rPET). That might include lasting protection from rain, wind, and UV rays and advanced moisture-management and rPET processing solutions. The right partner can help mills capture these opportunities in a way that is both cost-competitive and sustainable. Huntsman works with manufacturers to help them use new technologies for sportswear and athleisure wear that smells fresh for longer; eco-friendly durable water repellents that protect garments against rain, snow and everyday stains; and softening agents for towels that are soft and absorbent, with natural bounce and bulk.

Siddharth Raj Regional Marketing Manager-Dyes; Showkat Sarkar, Country Manager-Bangladesh; Md. Rakibul Islam, Special Correspondent, Textile Focus;   Nitin Soni, Commercial Director (South Asia), Huntsman Textile Effects

Photo (From left): Siddharth Raj Regional Marketing Manager-Dyes; Showkat Sarkar, Country Manager-Bangladesh; Md. Rakibul Islam, Special Correspondent, Textile Focus;   Nitin Soni, Commercial Director (South Asia), Huntsman Textile Effects.

Textile Focus: Finally, could you please give us an update on SCTI? How is it helping the textile and leather industry promote sustainability?

Nitin Soni: SCTI™ (Sustainable Chemistry for the Textile Industry) was founded in 2020 as an alliance of seven leading chemical companies. Our joint goal is to empower brands, retailers and manufacturers of all sizes to apply sustainable, state-of-the-art chemistry solutions that protect the environment,  consumers, factory workers and local communities.

Last year, we announced the collaboration with Bluesign to develop a first-of-its-kind sustainable chemistry index that will provide textile chemical users with a clear rating on a substance’s environmental and social impact.  Our mission is to drive transformational change through sustainable chemical solutions and to work with stakeholders to drive industry convergence. Providing textile and apparel industry players with a verified inventory of sustainable chemical products is the first step on this shared journey.