Interview with Gunjan Sharma

Face2Face
Gunjan Sharma
Gunjan Sharma
Chief Marketing Officer
Reliance Industries Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd

Performance, sustainability to be key differentiators

Reliance Industries Ltd is the largest producer of polyester fibre and yarn in the world. Its Recron staple fibres and tow have home textile applications and its Recron Certified home comfort range comes with advanced ECS technology. Gunjan Sharma, chief marketing officer of the company's polyester business, speaks to Dipesh K Satapathy

What steps have been initiated by your company for introducing and promoting circularity and sustainability in production process as more consumers demand sustainable and green products?

At Reliance Industries Limited, the concept of circular economy is embedded in our DNA and our actions and processes are governed by this concept. Our organisation is committed to help conserve the planet and build a strong society. Being an industry leader, we are focusing our efforts to make the Indian textiles industry a leader in adopting circularity and sustainability concepts. To achieve this, we have undertaken series of initiatives. 

Reliance is a leader in India in recycling post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, converts 2.05 billion used PET bottles into high-quality polyester that is being used in making high fashion, performance enhancement apparels. Reliance undertakes this activity through 120 PET bottle collection centres, spread across India and this initiative provides livelihood to around 3 lakh people, largely from the lower strata of the society.

We have branded the recycled next generation innovative polyester fibre as Recron GreenGold, one of the greenest fibres in the world. Manufactured by recycling post-consumer PET bottles, Recron GreenGold, uses energy from renewable sources and adopts efficient manufacturing practices at our plant in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. Recron GreenGold is made using bio-fuels instead of fossil fuels, thus making the manufacturing process greener. Further, we follow a zero-waste concept at our plants. Hence, the entire material is either used in the process or sold in market. The plant has a state-of-the-art effluent treatment process system that recycles 90 per cent of used water in manufacturing and horticulture. 

Reliance is one of the few recyclers of used PET bottles that provides end-to-end traceability throughout the entire supply chain from PET bottles to fibres. This is a completely transparent and socially compliant mechanism and has generated a huge demand from some of the major fashion houses. Recron GreenGold also comes in a variety of colours that removes the need for downstream wet dyeing. This results in massive savings in energy, chemicals and water. It is one of the most sought after fibres by leading textile manufacturers and brands for achieving their sustainability goals. Apart from high fashion fabrics for apparel, these fibres are also used in applications like home textiles, technical textiles and filling. 

Reliance has also taken a series of initiatives to create awareness about recycling of plastics in the industry and society. Some of the on-ground initiatives are: 

The Earth Tee: RIL made the World Environment Day 2018 a special one by launching a unique t-shirt, branded The Earth Tee and designed by renowned fashion designer Anita Dongre, under a programme called Fashion for Earth. The idea was to nudge people to switch to fashion that not only enhances aesthetics but also helps conserve the environment and our planet. 
During the launch of R|Elan fabric at the IMG Reliance's Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in January 2018, RIL collected post-consumer PET bottles from the venue. Those were processed, recycled and converted into R|Elan GreenGold fabrics-one of the greenest fabrics, using which Dongre designed The Earth Tee. 

Fashion for Earth, Circular Design Challenge: R|Elan Fashion For Earth in partnership with the United Nations in India and the LFW had launched the Circular Design Challenge last August at the LFW's Winter Festive 2018 edition. This, unique challenge was open to all fashion and accessory designers and entrepreneurs in India and was aimed at recognising environmental champions of tomorrow in the Indian fashion and textiles industry. 

This initiative unravelled the country's first award for sustainability and it had inspired innovation through circular design and offered solutions to reduce the environmental impact of the sector. 

We believe, the Indian businesses are well placed to lead the way in this transition to a circular economy. Together with the United Nations, Reliance hopes to act as a catalyst and help accelerate this transformation. 

Waste bottle collection drive: We believe in beginning waste bottle collection activities from home. We have initiated collecting all used PET bottles from our corporate office located over 504 acres in Navi Mumbai that accommodates around 25,000 employees and 5,000 daily visitors. The used PET bottles from the complex are sent to our Barabanki plant for recycling. 
We also carry out collection and awareness drives in places like large sporting events, film festivals and cultural events where a lot of PET bottles are used. 

Reverse vending machines: To promote and inculcate the good practice of responsible discarding and recycling of used PET bottles, a new initiative of reverse vending machines was introduced. Twenty-five vending and crushing machines were installed at strategic locations across Mumbai. The consumers are benefiting by getting incentives by depositing bottles. The programme not only collects bottles but also creates awareness on the benefits of recycling. 

Innovative shopping bags: Another initiative that aims at creating awareness about the recycling of used PET bottles is the creation of shopping bags using recycled fabric made from used PET bottles. These bags are made of GreenGold and come with a little pouch for carrying conveniently.

What steps have been initiated by your company for introducing and promoting circularity and sustainability in production process as more consumers demand sustainable and green products?
Published on: 01/06/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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