How to Get Better Price for Cutting Wastes (Garment Industry)

It is hard to deny that cutting waste comprises of a big chunk of textile waste generated within an apparel manufacturing plant and most often these are sold at dirt cheap rates. Depending on the fabric what if these waste have a much higher value if sold at the right place.

Cutting waste in a garment factory and its price

Textile waste recycling has been gaining a lot of attention since the past decade with an increase in concern for sustainability. Looking at the economic value of the waste every year millions of both post-industrial, as well as post-consumer textile waste, are thrown into the landfills, incinerated, downcycled, or left stranded throughout the planet which is a loss equivalent to a value more than $100billion in value per year.

Wastes in an apparel manufacturing plant

In an apparel manufacturing plant, the textile waste comprises of cutting waste such as leftover fabric from fabric lay, sample waste, fabric waste in the production line primarily from overlock operations, smaller end bits, disposed fabric during the process of quality control etc. of which cutting waste comprises of the maximum in volume. According to Reverse Resources out of all the textile waste, more than 60% of it comes from the cutting table. Thus if we could do something, a great value of money will be saved or earned from the waste.

Constituents of cutting waste

Now, for most of the factories, the cutting waste comprises of cut fabrics, papers from markers, base lay, tapes, pencil shavings, dirt, tapes, etc. After the cut components are bundled and taken out the remaining things on the table are considered waste and are taken out before the next lay. These are then collected in sacks and stored either in sacks or along with all the other waste.

After a fixed interval of time, often only 3-4 days these wastes are taken by different vendors at a price which is maxed out at mere Rs10-15 per Kg and at that point the factory becomes irresponsible of the waste without being aware of where the wastes are ending up. After that most of the vendors after buying the waste then sort them according to colours, free them of contaminants as much as possible and send them for downgrading, incineration or are sent to landfills.

Proposed Solutions

But there is a way which can provide much higher value than at present for those wastes and this can be achieved by directly selling the waste to various textile recyclers. In an earlier article, we have discussed Textile Recycling Processes. These wastes are of much higher value to them as they use those to make recycled fibres that can be used to make apparel. But not every waste has equal value to the eyes of such recyclers.

The most popular of them are 100% cotton waste next to which are blends, viscose followed by polyester. Polyester is the least environment friendly and recycle-friendly which are most often incinerated for fuels in boilers or send to landfill. For fibres such as viscose and blends, commercialized recycling is not much possible but are at present downgraded to different materials. Cotton, on the other hand, becomes very useful because of its compatibility with both the recycling processes.

Further classifying, knitted cotton fabric is the best use for both mechanical and chemical recycling as they provide a higher quality of recycling and thus sells for much higher value, being as high as twice or thrice than an average price. The woven fabric, on the other hand, can only be used by chemical recycling and have somewhat availed similar price range.

There is an exception for denim as they are recycle-friendly due to fabric construction and are recycled through mechanical recycling. The increased price is because these cotton wastes are recycled to form poly-cotton yarns for making both knitted and woven fabric after mechanical recycling process and to cellulosic fibres after chemical recycling which at present are priced higher than virgin fibres. There are some limitations to what types of waste to recycle and these are described in the above backlinks most of which are based on fabric construction, colour etc. Apart from this the most critical reason for such increased value is that this waste is of the purest quality with very little fabric variation, fabric mixing, etc. which makes the entire process much simpler. This also reduces the need for any cleaning and sorting processes which is considered to be a major part of textile recycling.

But this only happens when factories are in sync with such recyclers. The factory has to collect, store and dispose of the waste in such a way that it benefits such recyclers which will make them pay a higher price for the waste. This would require the factory to be equipped with a proper waste management system. This system would act in a way to collect the waste without any contaminants from the cutting table itself, store it until the order is cut and then sell it to recyclers. Storing fabric waste is very much important as a sizable amount of consistent waste is very much required by the recyclers. Fabric waste such as cotton knits and woven are to be collected separately in colours from all the other fabrics with special care to white fabrics as they are the costliest among the rest. One way of doing this waste management through a colour-coded information system and sacks to make the workforce aware of the waste quality and take steps accordingly.

With all decision in place the next step to choose for recyclers. Various Indian companies such as Sheeji Cotfab, Birla Cellulose, Usha Yarns and several other companies are in need for these wastes and will offer higher price than what it sells at. But the waste has to be of their requirement and negotiations has to be done based on that. More of these driving factors of textile recycling are discussed in the previous links and would provide a much-needed idea of what kind of waste will provide higher value if sold separately.

Thus, to conclude it, there surely is a possibility of getting a higher price from the textile wastes but this depends on the type and quality of waste that is intended to be sold to recyclers. Fabric such as cotton, both in knit and woven, denim has much higher price than the rest, then again based on colour, solid dyed yield a much higher price due to lack of foreign particles like print pigments, colour variations, embellishments, etc. Rest assured taking this step has much greater good as the wastes are being used in some way and thus are kept away from the landfill.

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha holds a Master's Degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, New Delhi. He is also a graduate in apparel production. His area of interest includes Quality Assurance and technology implementations in Apparel Production.

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