Thursday, 19 July 2018 05:55

BPPL begins first-ever polyester yarn production facility

Signifying a breakthrough in Sri Lanka’s industry, the country’s first state-of the-art polyester yarn plant was inaugurated on Tuesday by BPPL Holdings, a top brush maker in Asia. The facility is another milestone for BPPL, directed by wholly-owned subsidiary Eco-Spindles Ltd., aimed at promoting innovative sustainability where yarn is produced entirely from Polyethylene Terephthalate, commonly known as PET flakes.

The raw material for the plant’s yarn is sourced through post-consumer waste PET bottle collections.

BPPL Managing Director Anush Amarasinghe stated, “We recycle nearly 200,000-250,000 tons of PET each month. That’s approximately 20% of what Sri Lanka imports. While we are using such large quantities of PET waste, we reduce the need for new PET.”

Amarasinghe speaking on the investment for the production plant said: “Both the yarn spinning plant and the washing plant cost us about Rs.400m. Our main clients are the fabric mills industry people like the MAS Group, Hirdaramani Group and we’re also looking at exporting this yarn. Our main target is to double the collection to 400,000 tons per month within the next 12 months and we have bottle collection points and sectors spread across the country to achieve this goal. To double the production we will have to expand the plant too.”

He said that the initial response to the yarn that the plant has produced had been very positive. He also spoke of the increasing demand for yarn and how they are going to address it. “Sometimes the demand exceeds supply, which means that we have to expand, and we will be doing that in a few months’ time,” he added.

In an effort to set new standards in the industry, Eco Spindle’s technologically advanced new yarn facility, located in Horana BOI Zone, has a 13,000 sq. meter area and a capacity to produce 960 tons of synthetic yarn per annum for local and globally renowned fabric manufacturers.

The state-of-the-art polyester yarn plant is one of two plants in the world which create yarn directly from flakes, circumventing the polymerisation process where flakes are converted to chips and then to yarn.

The PET bottles are then sorted, hot, and cold washed prior to being transformed into flakes finally, into recycled draw textured polyester yarn. This polyester yarn is available in both raw white and dope dyed yarn forms.

Another value addition is the plant’s dope dying capabilities offering colour pigmentation insertion as part of the extrusion process.

Amarasinghe also added that the plant would assist the local apparel industry. “Sri Lanka, as you know, has a very big apparel industry. It has a huge number of apparel manufacturing plant operations in the country. It now has a very large number of fabric mills. MAS Group, Hirdaramani Group, Brandix, they all have big fabric mills. But all those fabric mills import yarn from countries including Taiwan, China and Hong Kong into making the fabric. So this is the first yarn spinning mill in the country. So it basically means that you don’t need to import yarn anymore and this is another major step in the apparel industry of the country,” he said.

He also mentioned the differences between the Sri Lankan plant and yarn spinning plants in other countries. According to him, the Sri Lankan plant can produce recycled yarn and virgin yarn.

“We have added a little twist to this in being able to reproduced recycled yarn. Most of the recycled yarn comes from countries like Taiwan, it requires more sophisticated equipment, a more complex manufacturing process. This is a plant that can produced recycled yarn as well as virgin yarn depending on the customer requirement,” he added.

Amarasinghe noted that the amount of PET bottles imported was damaging the environment, adding that this initiative was a step in the right direction to lessen the impact that imported PET bottles have on the environment.

“If you think about the whole magnitude of this operation, the fact is that Sri Lanka imports 1,200 tons of PET every month for making different types of soda bottles. Some of that gets exported, but a large part of that remains within the country. The fact that we are collecting 200-250,000 tons every month, that’s 20% of what the country imports. If we didn’t do this you can only imagine the amount of PET bottles that would go into landfills and get burnt, the problems that they would create. By recycling such a large quantity we reduce the amount of virgin PET that is required, which will contribute to the betterment of the environment,” he elaborated.

(FT)

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