Year of Foundation: 2015
Addresses the following SDGs: SDG 9 (industry, innovation, infrastructure), SDG 12 (responsible production and consumption), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life below water), SDG15 (life on land)
From conventional auto care products to sustainable chemicals
SCHUTZEN Chemical Group started as an auto care family company in 2015. As climate change, sustainability, and the SDGs became serious topics around the world a few years ago, Raj Tanna, the founder of SCHUTZEN Chemical Group, recognized the importance of entrepreneurs moving towards sustainability. As a student in Textile Technology and Business Management at the University of Manchester, he was conducting research on the processing of a polymer obtained from the seed of tamarind for potential use as a natural thickener in textile printing process with fiber reactive dyes. Tamarind is a common fruit tree in India that does not need cropping, as opposed to e.g. guar beans, from which guar gum with similar applications in textile printing is extracted, and the guar plant requires fertile land every year. Tamarind seeds have a low value in the food industry, because only the fruits are used, and the seeds remain as waste product, making tamarind seeds a low-cost raw material for other industrial uses. “Tamarind polymer has been used in industry for nearly 60 years. We were also selling the "basic version," which many companies in India have been selling for the last 20 years for polyester printing. So, it is not a new polymer. It is just underexplored and not well understood. We used our application and polymer production knowledge to understand how this polymer can be processed and used sustainably across industries and for new applications,” Raj explains. After his university research, SCHUTZEN Chemical Group launched their own special reactive dyes that work with tamarind polymer, allowing for more sustainable printing on cellulosic fibers like cotton. From then on, Raj focused on sustainable chemicals, guided by his father Mahendra Tanna, who shared his 40 years of experience in entrepreneurship and the chemical industry, including 20 years in a position as managing director of a German multinational textile specialty chemical company in India.
Re-exploring tamarind for sustainable applications
SCHUTZEN Chemical Group has already a process patent and a product patent on tamarind in the United States and a pending patent in Europe. And how did they succeed with the already known tamarind polymer? Tamarind is a natural substance with a high molecular weight and nitrogen content but processing it has always been extremely difficult. To make tamarind water-soluble without affecting the nitrogen content, SCHUTZEN Chemical Group uses two reactions: depolymerisation and carboxylation. “The science here is the reagent concentration and our patented process only allows us to gain the desired properties,” says SCHUTZEN Chemical Group’s founder. In that way, the start-up was able to produce two main versions of tamarind – one is an amphoteric compound which can be used for example in skin and hair care products, and a recently tested compound with no base or acidic groups at scope of application, which retains the nitrogen content while having good viscosity and other desired properties without interfering with the charge density, which is important for use in resin finishing – a process that makes fibers shrinkage and crease resistant. These properties of SCHUTZEN Chemical Group’s innovations allow to eliminate certain reactions and substitute some hazardous chemicals, such as sodium hydrosulfite used for indigo dyeing in denim process, while also reducing water consumption by 60% because it does not require after-washing. Another example is the replacement of polyquaternium-10, silicon, or acrylic-based compounds in skin and hair care products with more sustainable tamarind-based conditioning agents. Besides that, the products of SCHUTZEN Chemical Group are biodegradable. In the textile sector, the start-up has several small distributors in India, but they intend to expand internationally as well. SCHUTZEN Chemical Group collaborates with Azelis India in the field of paint and coating solutions, as well as personal care ingredients, and their products will be expanded to Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. They aim to reach the European and American markets in personal care as the Southeast Asian market is still a developing economy, where awareness of sustainability is only now beginning to grow.
Next up at SCHUTZEN Chemical Group
SCHUTZEN Chemical Group is currently testing the substitution of urea-formaldehyde resin used for resin finishing, where free formaldehyde is released, potentially endangering the health of factory workers and end users. At the same time, the start-up is constantly striving to improve their products in order to make them more sustainable and to find synergies with other start-ups and companies, as climate protection and biodiversity conservation play an important role for them in bringing new products to market and building a sustainable economy. SCHUTZEN Chemical Group, who joined the ISC3 Global Start-up Service in October 2020, is actively contributing to SDG 9 (industry, innovation, infrastructure), SDG 12 (responsible production and consumption), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life below water), SDG 15 (life on land).