For the past 25 years Managing Director Manish Bagrodia at Winsome Yarns Ltd., has been driving through innovations and sustainability initiatives within Winsome Knitwear and Winsome Yarns, and having travelled the world many times over, he has been able to create a workable vision for the company. Their vision is to soon convert their entire production into sustainable knitwear.
Winsome Yarns and its sister company Winsome Knitwear have been innovating and investing in substantial operation, based in Chandigargh in North West India, which has a capacity of around 4,000 pieces per day, although currently it is producing 3,000 pieces per day - a total of 90,000 pieces per month for foreign brands such as German brand Tchibo, Franceâ€™s Orchestra and Indian domestic brands like Lifestyle, Max, Reliance Trends and Octave.
To meet orders they have five full time programmers, run their knitting machines 24/7 with 172 Shima Seiki flat-bed knitting machines with gauges 7, 10, 12 and 14. In addition, Bagrodia said that they have about 120 linking machines from LPM, India, and 12 pressing machines from Ramsons, one from Mentatsti. The typical lead time is about 4 weeks.
Winsomeâ€™s sustainability project began back in 2016. During the last few years there has been a lot of awareness and discussions about the environmental impact of fashion. Textiles is a very large consumer of natural resources like fresh water. They at Winsome, have recognized this aspect of fashion and textile industry, and being part of the industry have embarked on a journey with a mission to provide the fashion world with highly environmental friendly textiles.
Winsomeâ€™s main route is to increase their production using recycled materials. Their vision is to develop knitwear which is made using recycled materials, with no or much less water used for processing, no dyeing, and using renewable energy wherever possible.
In the Indian market, historic fibres are making a return such as jute and hemp, and the newer innovation Banana silk, but Bagrodia decided that this is not the right route for his knitting company. As, their use is very limited in special textile applications. Recycled fibres are made using post-industrial or post-consumer waste and the fibres are suitable for apparel and most of textile use. Also, it is a way of preventing waste going into landfills.
Recycling textiles and yarns is not a new thing in India. According to Bagrodia, India has been making recycled textiles for maybe 10-15 years. However, use is mostly in the unorganised small scale sector for unbranded products. Cotton recycled fabric could be to the range of about 2-3% of the fabric production. Their sister company, Winsome Yarns is spinning from fibres reclaimed from both pre and post-consumer sources.
Winsome are using recycled polyester from PET waste bottles and Bagrodia said that the collection and use of this is more organized, and predicts that the use of such fibres could be to the extent of about 15-20% of the total fibre consumption.
In their drive towards making the business more sustainable Winsome is addressing the issue of energy consumption. Along with using recycled raw materials, they are trying to increase use of renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, agri-waste for steam generation.
For other companies exploring recycling, the process of spinning recycled fibres and conventional fibres is the same. Accordingly, the energy consumed in the form of electricity is also same.
Recycling is certainly no easy task, the main challenge is in the procurement and collection of the waste materials. Bagrodia believes that the secret to making recycling textiles work as a commercial venture is good organization in the collection, making the material sourcing more reliable and therefore more attractive to brands.
Recycling from textiles presents other problems. Most importantly there is the issue of segregation into different colours, because of the inherent nature of the industry, the waste comes in small lots of different colours. Also within the same colour category, there are different tones. This aspect makes it more complex to maintain colour consistency.
Similarly, the quality of waste is all mixed and requires human manual segregation. This is a cumbersome process. Also, after the opening the fibre quality varies from lot to lot. This requires proper management prior to spinning. The yarn quality is somewhat inferior to the similar yarns made from using virgin fibres. However, this aspect is trade off vis a vis using virgin fibres.
Surprisingly though, he said that there is not a significant difference in the energy usage in spinning these yarns compared to spinning yarns using virgin fibres. Their current daily production is 50 tonnes of yarn per day. Out of this, recycled yarn is a very small quantity of about 1 ton per day.
Looking to the longer term, they are very hopeful of being successful in their sustainability and recycling strategy. They have been quite successful in developing new knitwear products using recycled materials. This has been warmly received by customers.
They are showing keen interest in sourcing these products from them. They are going to continue working on developing more and more yarns and other textile products such as home textiles, furnishings, all kinds of apparel use such as denims, other knit and woven fabrics using recycled and sustainable textile materials and processes.
Bagrodia believes that the market will change and predicts that, markets will start using a parallel collection of textile and clothing made out of recycled materials. There will be customers who are very conscious about the environmental aspects of lifestyle and fashion. They will be the people who will drive this segment of clothing. But there will be certain limitations in respect to design and quality.
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