A first-of-its-kind plant in Sri Lanka’s Horana Export Processing Zone is poised to not only transform post-consumer plastic bottles into polyester yarn but the South Asian nation’s $4.8 billion textile and apparel industry, too.
Inaugurated last month by Eco Spindles, a wholly owned subsidiary of BPPL Holdings, a manufacturer of brooms, brushes and mops, the facility features cutting-edge spinning and texturing machinery from Europe that will make it a “game changer for the industry,” BBL CEO Anush Amarasingh told the local Daily Mirror.
“Most of the fabric plants are utilizing cotton, but the growth is in polyester yarn,” he said.
The 13,000-square-meter plant, which has 800 million rupees ($11.4 million) in investments, will be only one of two in the world to create yarn directly from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flakes, a tack that bypasses the polymerization process of converting flakes to chips and then yarn.
To expand production, BPP is planning to spend up to 1.5 billion rupees ($21.3 million) on a second state-of-the-art yarn-production plant on the same premises, Amarasingh added.
BPPL currently collects 200 to 250 tons of PET waste per month, a number it says it plans to double within the next year. Roughly 70 tons of this will be used to generate synthetic yarn, while another 150 tons will be diverted to the production of synthetic brush filaments, he said.
The new plant, which boasts a capacity of 960 tons of yarn per year, will be able to supply 15 percent of the polyester yarn required by Sri Lanka’s textile and apparel sectors, Amarasingh said, noting that 10 plastic bottles provide enough yarn to produce a single T-shirt. It also has dope-dyeing capabilities to create colored yarn as part of the extrusion process.
“By sourcing polyester yarn from Sri Lanka, fabric manufacturers can significantly reduce lead times and also lower inventory costs,” Amarasingh added.
To ensure its yarn meets strict international standards—and appeal to potential clients abroad—Eco Spindles abides by the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Restricted Substances Lists (RSL) and Oeko-Tex Standard 100.
“With the global apparel industry moving toward creating more sustainable products and processes, BPPL sees tremendous potential for its recycled polyester yarn offering,” Amarasingh said.