Waterloo innovator wins award for natural textile dye

Monica Ferguson   

News Sustainability Manufacturing Canada engineering Innovation microorganisms Mitacs

Iris Redinger / Photo credit: Mitacs

Iris Redinger has developed an all-natural dyeing solution using microorganisms to ‘grow’ colour. Through Waterloo-based Material Futures, Redinger, was presented the Mitacs Environmental Entrepreneur Award.

“Dyeing clothing is one of the biggest environmental challenges in the fashion industry,” said Redinger. “Historically, we used plants to colour textiles, but now we use chemical processes derived from harmful petroleum products. With recent developments in synthetic biology, now is the right time to return to nature as a source for colour.”

Redinger founded Material Futures in 2018, hiring researchers to help develop her method, which is patent pending. After identifying microorganisms that naturally produce colour, she applies genetic engineering techniques to make it their primary function. The end products are fully biodegradable colorants that can be substituted into existing manufacturing processes.

The technology has gone through performance and feasibility testing to ensure the naturally dyed textiles stand up to repeated washing without fading and meet thresholds for industry-grade fabrics.


Redinger is one of five winners of the Mitacs Entrepreneur Award who are being recognized for their efforts to turn their research into innovative businesses that impact the lives of Canadians.

She is a Mitacs intern who earned her Bachelor of Architecture at Waterloo University last year.


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