Germ fighting is new industrial mantra

Updated: Jul 19, 2020 7:33 PM

Fabric and fibre manufacturing brand Lenzing has joined hands with Ruby Mills to manufacture sustainable antimicrobial fabrics. Antimicrobial fabric is treated with or infused with one or several of a variety of substances to keep microbes from flourishing within its fibres.

Anything that could be germ-free promised to be a lucrative business idea.

By Shriya Roy

First it was sanitisers, with demand for them skyrocketing during the initial days of the pandemic. Companies that were not even in the hygiene business scrambled to manufacture bottles after bottles. The focus then expanded to encompass anti-microbial products. Anything that could be germ-free promised to be a lucrative business idea. After all, the deadly virus could be anywhere — on clothes, shoes, fruit, vegetables, grocery packets and so on.

Not surprisingly, the industry has seen a sudden boom in demand and production of anti-microbial products.

One of India’s oldest footwear brands, Bata, has come up with products like foot sanitisers, wipes and face masks in its portfolio to a curated collection of ‘washable shoes’. Bata India has also launched a collection of anti-bacterial shoes for children. Said Matteo Lambert, the chief collection manager, Bata India, “We are looking to extend the same anti-bacterial properties to more of our products. Everyone is now extra cautious about the kind of risks they are exposing themselves to, and nobody wants the virus to enter their houses through unsuspecting carriers like shoes. Therefore, it is now imperative to also sanitise footwear.” He said although Bata had an anti-bacterial range in place even before the pandemic, it was only for schoolchildren.

“Now that there is more demand in the market for such products, we have had to adapt ourselves accordingly and shift our focus. In addition to anti-bacterial, we are also working on a range of products with anti-viral properties.”
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras-based startup Muse Wearables has developed methods for coating textiles with nanoparticle-based antimicrobial agents that can inactivate the coronavirus on contact. These coatings are expected to be effective up to 60 washes, making the textile re-usable. Many more fashion and apparel brands have also started to re-think and incorporate materials that offer antimicrobial benefits.

Fabric and fibre manufacturing brand Lenzing has joined hands with Ruby Mills to manufacture sustainable antimicrobial fabrics. Antimicrobial fabric is treated with or infused with one or several of a variety of substances to keep microbes from flourishing within its fibres. Avinash Mane, commercial head, south Asia, Lenzing, told FE, “Safety and sustainability are the primary aim. We are working towards breaking the barrier that fabrics and textiles are carriers of diseases and viruses. When it comes to clothing, if the end user sees that there is a brand that is offering additional protection, they are definitely going to go for it.”

He added, “The demand for these products may not remain the same say a year down the line, but right now, when we speak to global and local retailers and brands, they are open to the initiative to provide something extra to their consumers. In the present situation it is a good and smart business model.”

Hygiene brand Sirona has come up with a range of products under the BodyGuard brand, from sanitising wipes, sprays to chlorine-based tablets that can disinfect fresh produce, solving consumers’ problem of how to make fruit and vegetables safe. Sirona founder Deep Bajaj said, “Hygiene is now at the core and it will become part of new business strategies going forth. The pandemic has fast-tracked the learning curve for both the producers and the consumers. What 9/11 did to the aviation industry, Covid-19 has done for hygiene.” He added, “It is true the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties are a selling point. Going forward, more and more such products will find presence in every household, in everyday items.”

Lenzing’s Mane added that sustainability and protection should come with affordability. “We are not looking at our anti-microbial products as a short-term business strategy. We are looking to continue producing them in the long term, even when the pandemic passes.”

Elanpro, a refrigeration company, is launching Safe UVC, an intelligent, ultraviolet light-based germicidal lamp. The UV technology disinfects bacterial, viral, and protozoan functions in all places that it reaches. The lamp can also be used to sanitise everyday items, from wallets, phones and even vegetables. The product is set to be available on Amazon and Flipkart starting June 30.

Cleaning and hygiene solutions company Diversey recently launched Diversey Hygienizer, a personalised kit consisting of a spray, sanitiser and dry wipes intended for workstation hygiene. LC Das, MD, India and subcontinent, Diversey India, said they foresee this hygieniser kit to be an integral part of the ‘new normal’ as employees resume office.

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