The fundamental process of textile weaving is the conversion of fibre into yarn, and then yarn into fabric. Typically, either the yarn or fabric is dyed. While many different types of fibres are used to produce yarn, it is here that the different textile mills have their own USP. Most of the spinning mills spin grey coloured yarn. However, having patterns in yarn itself is rare. While the mills get the dyed fibre from other places which included both cotton and polyester, it is blending these unique coloured yarns and creating value addition in this market that is the USP of Sarmangal Synthetics.
How Sustainable is this Yarn?
The word synthetics has its own connotations and the first question we asked Mr Nirmal Jain was about the Sustainability of this yarn considering the USP poly mixed or pure polyester.
As the source of the fibre is PET bottles for the source of the polyester, there is no use of virgin polyester. All the embedded energy in procurement of virgin polyester is saved in the closed loop process. So, in terms of climate impact and impact on Life on Land SDG and Life below Water SDG, this material has a positive impact. However, that leads to our next question which is about polyester and blended materials.
While it is understandable that there can be recycling of PET bottles and as long as that material is pure and unblended it can be recycled again. However, once the yarn is blended, is it possible to recycle it further?
What happens to the blended clothes at the end of the life? Does the blending not cause further issues at the end of life?
Mr Nirmal Jain revealed that material recovery happens at the end of the life cycle of this product. Clothes can again be made from this recycled material. As this material dissolves separately and can be recovered even in blends. Then the question of quality comes naturally to our mind. Would it not impact the quality of the material when it is recovered or recycled again?
Does that impact the quality?
While prime reasons why people may be opting for the virgin material may be perceived as being superior to recycled in quality. However, that according to Mr Nirmal Jain is a myth. There is a slight difference in the quality, however this material is blended with the pure organic cotton or BCI cotton in blends depending on the wish of the customer and that provides strength and quality to the fabric.
Coloured yarn has its distinct advantage of durability and color steadfastness. This ensures the final fabric if exposed to harsh conditions like direct sunlight, can maintain the color distinction for a long time as compared to fabric dyed materials.
For a product to be sustainable there are multiple aspects one must consider. It is about water, energy, emissions, waste, material in own operations and it is also important to know about the supply chain. If the materials are based on zero waste loop, and energy consumption in materials is reduced, it is the power consumptions in the mills that raises the emission potential. So, in this case the mill runs on 100% renewable energy. While 80% of the energy is from windmills which the company owns, the rest is taken from other windmills.
Use of precautionary principle – waste as resource
What is interesting is that the company has understood that the biggest waste comes out when the quality issues arise. To minimize waste the quality has be second to none. The company keeps that as the Principle No. 1 for managing waste. After that whatever waste comes out it is sold. Second grade yarn goes to domestic markets. Waste material is utilized to make carpets, so actually no waste to landfills.
However, there are other challenges such as if the cotton in the blend is less than 50% duties in some countries do not allow that, then it must be directed to another country.
The other aspect of Sustainability is social values of the organization. It is important to know whether the company has addressed the issues of diversity, equity, fairness and labor practices.
Social values – Highest level of women participation in workforce
They have 450 workers in the factory out of which 70-75% are women. While by design there are more women, it is important to have women at every levels. Even managerial positions like purchase department is handled by female staff and gender diversity is uniformly distributed across functions and hierarchy. There are hostel facilities inside the mills and there is food and canteen which is made available for free for the staff.
Is the supply chain of the organization also aligned on sustainability values?
It is very relevant and important for the organization. The promoters believe that the supply chain sustainability especially around ZLD and chemicals is crucial and that the company assures the supply chain of the company is compliant with all certifications.
Sarmangal started its journey in 1995, with a capacity of 2.5-3 tonnes. The current capacity of the organization is seventeen tonnes a day as there was capacity added in three phases in 2002, 2010, and 2020. The customers for this yarn comprise mainly in Thiruppur and other regions such as Sri Lanka southeast Asian countries, Egypt, Latin America, and Italy. With a unique selling point and sustainability embedded in the organization, the company wants to continue its sustainability agenda and move towards more and more sustainable options for future production.