It is environment-friendly because it's been recycled already. You have heard about plastic-it doesn't melt easily and takes 100 years to decompose naturally. So, it's (recycled spun yarn) environment-friendly.
How environment-friendly are the chemicals and the processes of reuse?
The chemicals used in the processes are natural and no harmful or hazardous chemicals are added. They also meet compliance standards. Bottles are made crystal clear; first by hot wash, then through dry cleaning by acid. After this, it's used to make fibres. Recycled fibres are as good as virgin fibres with little difference in the colour. Once the fibre has been made, the process of making yarn and fabric are just the same. It was not easy to make yarn from PET bottles in the past, but now the technology is there. This technology came to India in 2008, and Everflow was the pioneer. We were always a step ahead from the rest in the Indian market. Making yarn of 10s count- which is thicker-is easier; but we have been able to make till 70s count which is much thinner from recycled PET, and for virgin we have gone till 80s count. Yet, recycled fibres were not something new for India in a way. People were already making soft toys, pillows, etc, but it was very difficult to make yarn out of such material. But now-for the past three years, Indian recycled fibres can also be made for spun yarn. The recycled fibre makers are 7-8 in number in this region, but not all of them are at present making fibres for recycled yarn. Ganesh Polymers from Kolkata was the first company in India to make finer count recycled fibres for spun yarn.
Are there any statistics about how many PET bottles are required to make a metre of cloth? How many tonnes of bottles are you buying from your collection centres?
Five used bottles can make a garment. For producing 350 tonnes, we buy more than 350 tonnes of PET bottles. The bottle price is ₹23/kg from collection centres, and we are selling yarn at ₹120/kg, knitted fabric at ?180/kg and woven fabric at ₹25/ metre. Annually, we consume about 12000 tonnes of PET bottles. There is a crushing and washing plant for the PET bottles, which is similar to a PTA and MEG plant used for making polyester virgin yarn. The caps and stickers are first removed from the bottles in the washing plant, and then they go into the crushing plant, where they are broken down into flakes. These then go into the extruder, and then are converted into a thick liquid. The liquid gets transformed into polyester staple fibre, which is further used to make the polyester spun yarn, which is recycled.
How do you see the future evolving? And how do you see things changing in the next 4-5 years?
About 30 per cent of the Indian manmade fibre (MMF) industry has converted into this (recycled material) in the last four years; so, it's growing well. I think it will grow more into other items like high tenacity products in the coming years. On my part, the company's name was changed into Everflow Technotex in April. My factory's name at present is Siyon Spinners, which too will be changed to Everflow Technotex.
But, why only manmade fibres?
Cotton is much cheaper in India to export; import is not easy. The Indian market-specially for viscose spun yarn-is monopolised by big companies. In India, only the Birla group was producing viscose yarn and fibres, and the price was so high that people couldn't use and export this product. They could not even make a cheaper fabric out of the viscose spun yarn because of the higher price. So, we thought that we are getting a cheaper yarn from China (in terms of viscose); the import was free, with no anti-dumping in spun yarn. So we started this to reduce the costs, to let buyers come into contact with the product. There has been around 30 per cent growth in India for viscose spun yarn. Today, viscose spun yarn is expensive in China, but the market in India has grown. So, Indian weavers and exporters are making the best of it. We must import products which make us competitive in exports and in local markets as well. There is no point importing garments; if you are to import garments, there's not much you can do. The market for cotton is already there in India; if you import garments, antidumping will be there on garments but not on raw materials. The government has to think that way, and your imports should be liberalised in raw materials.
How is India placed with respect to these commodities?
In polyester, India is placed very low and is not at all competitive. The reason is that our government has kept 12.5 per cent excise duty on this product. Nowhere else in the world is there a 12.5 per cent excise duty on this product. If the duty is high here, the raw material won't be cheaper. So, how will you compete with China as there is no duty there? If the 12.5 per cent comes down to 6-7 percent, that 5 per cent will be availed of by all sectors, and you will be competitive for exports. About 30 per cent of the global textiles industry uses recycled polyester yarn. In last seven years, the consumption has grown three times.
What are your expectations from the new textiles policy when it comes to manmade fibres?
For manmade fibres, the excise duty has to be reduced. In such a scenario, exports of polyester will increase within six months. As of now, we are exporters for cotton, but not polyester.
Which are the markets that India can look at in terms of exports?
China-the labour cost is three times higher in China as compared to India. It's 30,000 per person that they are paying in China, and getting a 75-80 per cent efficiency in eight hours. On the other hand in India, the payout is 8,000-10,000 with an efficiency of 75-80 per cent in the south and 60-65 per cent in Gujarat. The textiles and garment industry is labour-oriented. Power is expensive and labour is cheap, while duties and interest rates are high. Interests are now being reduced, but power is still costly. If excise duty is reduced by 5-6 per cent, India will also be able to export manmade fibres to China. I have started exporting recycled fibres to China now because just there is only a 2 per cent excise on that. However, finishing of China is better than that of India. The reason is that they have demand from all over the world. Here, we are just making for India and not for exports since we know that we are not competitive.
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