Debonair Group is set to establish a recycling facility to turn discarded plastic into yarn and fibres for manufacturing jackets, paddings and quilts, keeping in tune with rising global demand for manmade fibres and growing environmental awareness.
Synthetic fibres made up about 45 percent of apparel traded globally in 2017, amounting to some $150 billion. It has witnessed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 percent between 2007 and 2017.
Bangladesh had just 5 percent share of the pie whereas Vietnam, its closest competitor in apparel trade, managed 10 percent.
In contrast, cotton accounted for around 35 percent of the trade. Its CAGR was a negative 0.5 percent.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the sector’s apex trade body, emphasised the need for raising the use of manmade fibres in garment production to boost its exports.
The new facility will be established on 45 bighas of land in Bhaluka at a cost of Tk 240 crore and production will start from October this year, said Mohammed Ayub Khan, managing director of Debonair Group.
The company will no longer need to depend on imports, mainly from China, worth some $55 million annually, he told The Daily Star over the phone.
“We will collect discarded plastic bottles of edible oil and water from different corners of the country to make flakes and then to make yarn and fabrics and finally the paddings and quilts.”
The company currently exports jackets and padding worth $140 million a year. Its major buyers are H&M, Colombia, VF Corporation, Benetton Group and C&A.
Product traceability has made consumers around the world more conscious of what they purchase: they have come to prioritise environmental concerns and ways to address them according to industry insiders.
The preference for polyester, synthetic and viscose fibres arise from their durability and the ease in taking care of clothes made from them.
Local manufacturers have apparently been unable to take note of the advantages, since manmade fibres have accounted for just 20 percent of apparel exports for a long time.
They have continued increasing production of yarn and garment products from cotton every year.
Some 74.14 percent of apparel exported in fiscal 2018-19 was made from cotton fibres, up from 68.67 percent in fiscal 2008-09, said a BGMEA study unveiled last week.
Since the demand for cotton garment items is going down, exporters are getting lower prices from buyers.
Moreover, cotton accounted for 93.57 percent of the 2.05 million tonnes of fibre imported by Bangladesh in 2018, according to the study.
Another impediment is the high investment required for setting up synthetic fibre production facilities.
Of the 430 spinning mills in Bangladesh, only 27 churn out synthetic and acrylic yarn.