Turning Food Waste into Biodegradable Dyes
Emily Taylor has been selected as part of UNICEF Innovation30: Young Innovators Shaping the Future.
Countries of Solution Deployment: UK
Innovation Accelerator: Undaunted Imperial College London, United Kingdom
In a bustling workshop in the heart of London, Emily Taylor, 30, holds a soft pink pigment extracted from avocado pits. A former designer with nearly a decade in the fashion industry, her innovative enterprise, SAGES, offers a scalable solution poised to reduce children’s exposure to the harmful chemicals used in dyes one garment at a time. The fashion industry directly impacts millions of children globally through environmental pollution, resource depletion and water contamination.
The fashion industry's heavy reliance on synthetic dyes, responsible for an estimated 80% of its emissions, presented Taylor with both a technical challenge and an attractive economic opportunity. With 20% of the world’s wastewater being caused by synthetic dyes, the market for reducing pollution is truly global.
Capitalizing on a unique process, Emily and her co-founder Alice Simpson obtain colour-causing compounds from organic food waste, such as avocados and onion skins. Unlike prevailing synthetic counterparts, SAGES vibrant dyes are biodegradable.
The solution has six core colours with hues derived from red cabbage, onion skins, avocados, and blueberries. For now, Taylor is focusing their application on natural fibers like cotton, viscose, wool, and silk.
Emily aims to ensure the seamless integration of SAGES dyes into the fashion world and expand its horizons into the printing, packaging, and cosmetics industries. Taylor envisions clear rivers in major dyeing hubs and garments that align with well-being, eliminating the adverse effects of synthetic dyes.
Emily’s favourite creation is the "sunshine yellow" dye, derived from yellow onion skins. “I would gladly paint the world in our onion sunshine yellow, it's just really bright and optimistic.”