What can 1,88,708 used PET bottles do to the environment? A lot of damage, actually. But thanks to Tennis Australia and Tirupur-based garments company NC John & Sons, they have been given new life as apparel for ball boys, girls, and courstside statisticians at the ongoing Australian Open tennis tournament. The company has tailored 25,000 garments for the tournament, all of them 100% recycled polyester.
Seated in his office at the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) campus in Tirupur, Alexander Neroth, CEO of NC John & Sons, shows us T-shirts, leggings, shorts, zipper-jackets and tennis dresses that his company made as part of the order. In aqua blue, white, and green, the apparel is made of polyester filament yarn from recycled plastic bottles.
“We got the yarn imported from Taiwan,” explains the 46-year-old. “The fabric,” he adds, “Was knitted and dyed in Surat, and brought to Tirupur. Our team of around 100 tailors, most of them women, created the outfits based on the designs from Tennis Australia.”
For Alexander, whose company has been making sustainable apparel since 2007, this is business as usual. But he does add that he is happy that their work has put them in the spotlight.
“We got the order from Tennis Australia through one of our customers in Australia,” he explains, adding that his company has been chiefly exporting garments to the US and the UK. “The team visited us in November last year to ensure that the entire process was green.”
In fact, 40% of the power consumed by SIDCO in Tirupur is from wind and solar energy. Alexander, however, wishes that more industries in the textile and knit wear hub, located on the banks of the Noyyal river 52 kilometres from Coimbatore, come forward to tap into the market polyester has to offer.
This is also among the reasons why Alexander’s recycled garments have not entered the Indian market yet. But he hopes to sell in India soon. “People in our country are by nature concerned about the environment,” he feels, adding, “In a year or two, we plan to launch our own brand.” Polyester, however, is often not considered to be on a par with cotton — a lot of people prefer the latter for its natural properties.
Alexander is now getting a lot of enquiries for his sustainable apparel — his company also does clothes in organic cotton blends and recycled cotton. “We started making apparel with 100% recycled polyester a couple of years ago. Right now, 90% of what we do is sustainable. Soon, we hope to reach the 100% mark,” he explains.
Alexander just received an email from a leading cricketer’s brand. “Imagine if the Indian cricket team wore our T-shirts,” he says. “I will be much happier then: the entire nation will get to see them.”
- Each T-shirt comes with a tag that mentions its fabric’s significance, along with a sketch that shows its life-cycle: from plastic bottle, to yarn, fabric, and garment.
- Printed inside, on the garment’s back, is a small square that states the number of PET bottles that went into its making.
- Next to the square, reads, ‘Made in India, Designed in Australia’