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Technically advanced perfectly blended with a sustainability mindset, this is the future of textiles.

    Chenniappa Yarn Spinner Private Limited, a textile company based out of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, is toying with technically advanced fabrics as its USP while keeping the circular economy principles as the framework. We spoke with Varun Subramaniam, the next generation entrepreneur to understand how the company is integrating the new technology and blending with the age-old wisdom of resource thoughtfulness. 

    A circular economy is about creating models that work for sustainable livelihoods, conserving resources, creating value, yes it may be a road less travelled, but a road worth trying. Varun Subramaniam shares what it takes to make waste a resource and provide solutions for a sustainable world.

    Mr. C. Subramaniam, Managing Director

    Mr. Varun Subramaniam, Executive Director

    While textile waste is a much-discussed topic when it comes to sustainability, it is challenging to use pre-consumer waste as cuttings from textile companies and blend these to create new textiles on one hand. It is equally challenging to make use of the post-consumer waste to create new fibres and fabrics. Chenniappa Yarn Spinners have mastered the art of using pre-consumer waste that creates a win-win for the garment companies that dispose of that waste, helps the environment, creates more jobs and also helps their own bottom-line.

    Located in Avinashi, near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, set amidst the textile hub, Chenniappa Yarn Spinner Private Limited takes pride in being a reliable sourcing partner for various brands across the globe from China, Korea and Europe as well as for the domestic brands. The company started its operations in 2005, focusing on knitted fabrics initially and eventually integrating spinning with over 24000 spindles and 16 MT of Yarn/day, which is nearly double its capacity in 2007. The company also produces 6 MT of Fabric per day.

    Varun Subramaniam, the next generation entrepreneur, formally trained in Robotics and automation from the University of Florida has found a niche and USP in technically advanced While Varun formally joined the company in 2019, his enthusiasm for new products, technically advanced fibres and sustainability is demonstrated in initiatives the company is taking. One of the initiatives being partnering with Reliance to develop and promote fabric out of functional and recycled polyester.

    Post-consumer waste and pre-consumer waste are two distinct streams used in the textile sector. Now while post-consumer waste usage is fairly standardised in the Indian textile industry, it is the pre-consumer waste that is a challenge. Setting 100% yarn with post-consumer waste is challenging, therefore blending with other materials is important.

    Why use recycled yarn as opposed to virgin yarn?:
    The recycled yarn is fundamental to think of leaving no waste behind. Recycled yarns can be pre-consumer and post-consumer. The company sources pre-consumer waste from other mills, which is dyed. In terms of resources, only 40% water is used in processing the fabric as compared with virgin material.

    As these are assorted yarns that are already dyed so there is no additional usage of dyes. Varun emphasized the importance of creating jobs as there are vendors who specialise in collecting waste from garment units, sorting and assorting the yarn. While adding all the environmental benefits, the cost of the recycled yarn is roughly half of the virgin yarn. Vendors get different coloured garments and segregate those keeping blacks with blacks and reds with reds. If there is any downside to it, it is only that the colour of these blends cannot be compared with virgin materials as different shades are getting blended here. Again, these can be used for products where colour differences are well tolerated. Waste from garments units includes fibre from Asian countries like Cambodia, Sri Lanka etc.

    Journey in Sustainable Fibres:
    Two fibres amongst natural fibres such as hemp and cotton are really favoured by aware customers. The cotton grown in an organic manner inherently saves water as most of the water used is rainwater. At the same time, PET bottles to fibre also help in the water-saving and dyeing process which is used extensively in conventional fibres.

    Green Campus:
    Natural materials, sustainable fibres and innovative fibres are the USP, but the future is green, says Varun. Varun strongly believes that sustainability can be strengthened when not only sourcing the materials, but the process is also green. One of the major issues being climate change, renewable power makes the products have lesser embedded carbon. The company has 60% of power from wind, which is 2.1 MW of power consumption annually. The surplus energy is banked at a low cost and used during deficit months. The company is also looking to source solar energy. The concept of carbon footprint to even support the daily food requirements of the staff, which is one of the highlights of the campus. It is a 20-acre property and is considered one of the greenest campuses in the area.

    While there are trees on the campus there is ample emphasis provided for in house farming for the kitchen. Roughly 20-25% per cent of vegetables and groceries come from in house farms. Nearly 400 plus employees about 170 women and 230 men are employed at the campus, with some women supervisors. Hostels are served food from this organically maintained campus.

    Process waste is used in-house and other wastes are segregated and recycled. There is wastewater which after treatment is used for irrigation and farming. The land when bought had only four trees and now there are 600 trees on the campus.

    Future Plans:
    Chenniappa Yarn Spinners has certifications such as OCS-Organic blended, OCS-Organic 100, BCI, Cotton Made in Africa and Global Recycled Standard Certifications. Future plans for the company is to make the organization more sustainable, be it organic cotton and hemp, recycled fibre and fabric, as well as compact yarns and more techno yarns as well as to become 100% renewables and become carbon neutral. The company will also look to expand its capacity and work on a wide variety of products.

    Interviewed by: Dr Shashi Kad, SAGE Sustainability; Ms Manju Sendil Kumar