An interview with a customer
Since 1997, Gama Recycle has pioneered processes for spinning discarded waste material into regenerated yarns and fibers. One of the largest producers in this sector, the company recycles textiles and uses rPET bottle flakes in production. We spoke with Gama Recycle’s founder, Zafer Kaplan, who shared an insider’s perspective on the state of the art in recycling and what’s next in this rapidly evolving field.
How did your commitment and approach to recycling develop?
We have produced recycled items since 1997 and have earned a reputation for recycling textiles and some plastics. There is a huge amount of plastic and textiles waiting to be reused. One of the most complicated aspects, though, is collecting the materials.
What special considerations are required to produce regenerated yarns and fibers?
In the beginning, producing regenerated fibers and yarns was not a priority for most countries and companies. A lot of garment or textile cutting waste was thrown away or incinerated. It was not worth it for the industry to take care of these leftover materials. We developed ideas to turn these "leftovers” into regenerated fiber and yarn for industrial use. We have 18 patents for recycled products, machines and equipment and 10 more under review. Today, most garment manufacturers sort and sell their leftover cutting materials. This is a huge improvement. There were only a few machine manufacturers on the market when we started recycling textiles, and most of the time, we had to convert or modify our machines for recycling processes. Today, a lot of companies are focusing on recycling machines, which has fostered growth in the industry.
What do you recycle and which polymers are these materials made of?
We recycle pre-consumer cutting or industrial waste, post-consumer garments, PET bottles, PET trays and other PET-based packaging materials and consumer products. We also have several patents for recycling used garments into cotton and polyester fibers.
In what condition are the raw materials when you purchase them, and which steps of the process do you handle internally?
Sourcing is the most crucial and complicated part of our work. We purchase waste (our raw materials) worldwide and have standards for these materials. Unfortunately, what we buy does not always match up to our specifications.
You use a staple fiber plant solution from Oerlikon Neumag in your production. What makes this
plant technology so interesting for your process?
Recycled fibers have huge market potential. End users want environmentally friendly products but they also still want product quality. This is why we prefer to use the Neumag fiber line. We are able to control the whole process in a very efficient way, with a consistently high quality of fiber but with less production waste.
Producing yarn and fiber from recycled materials seems more profitable than using virgin material. Was your decision motivated by that factor or by idealism?
It is more profitable in most cases, but also riskier and more complicated. You need know-how and experience, good machinery and equipment. Otherwise, it will be a huge loss. While, on the one hand, we are running a business, we are also proud to do our part for sustainability and the environment. For example, our new patented fiber, CUPROCEL, is made of rPET polymer. Its touch, drape, stretch and recovery is not comparable to any other synthetic fiber. It is more similar to cellulosic fibers such as modal or lyocell. We sell it as a fabric created with recycling processes and offer to buy cutting waste and post-consumer garments from our customers. By doing our part in terms of sustainability, we hope to motivate others to follow suit.
How does the Oerlikon Neumag plant solution support your goals for the next three to five years?
We can process up to a total of 300 metric tons of PET flake capacity per day, which means we can make 200 tons of recycled polyester fibers and 100 metric tons of PET chips for filament yarn and bottle-to-bottle (foodgrade) applications daily. Oerlikon Neumag’s technology and capability make it easier for us to achieve these goals.
Reducing waste & resource consumption in tooling
Traditionally, tool life span is a challenge nearly all customers face. To resolve this, Oerlikon Balzers has developed a fast and cost-effective solution that offers the added productivity advantage where tools can be given a life that is up to three times longer, which also significantly reduces waste as a result from the disposal of tools. Previously, customers sent their tools to professional regrinders for refurbishing, requiring additional transport. Oerlikon Balzers solved this problem by creating an integrated and customized one-stop service for reconditioning high-performance round tools. By concentrating the entire process under one roof, we can get customers’ tools back to work faster, which reduces downtime and supports optimal productivity. This solution saves up to 50% of conventional reconditioning costs, fuel and time.