At Gama Iplik ve Dokuma Sanayi A.S. in Gaziantep, south-east Turkey, everything has revolved around spinning used textiles into regenerated yarns since 1997. 100 tons of yarn and 50 tons of polyester fibers are the daily output.
Applications of the yarns produced in three spinning mills range from upholstery, home textiles and socks to cleaning cloths and packaging. But the range also includes special yarns with flame-retardant or antibacterial finish and heavy-metal-free bleached yarns for the food industry. All three plants are equipped with Truetzschler machines: Automatic bale openers BLENDOMAT and various Generations of cards with integrated draw frames (IDF2) contribute to the particularly good yarn quality.
We talked to Zafer Kaplan, the owner of Gama Iplik.
Gama Iplik is one of the world’s greatest regenerate spinners. This implies a lot of empirical knowledge. What are the typical raw materials you are using?
Zafer Kaplan: The bandwidth of the raw materials that we process ranges from textile production waste like rags, snippets or other textile waste to post-consumer material. Millions of tons of old textiles are collected every year, but qualities vary greatly.
What do you pay attention to when purchasing ‘good’ textile waste?
Zafer Kaplan: We prefer, and that is a great challenge, classified material sorted by color and type of material.
A great environmental problem are ultra-cheap clothes. Did the quality of the raw material change within the last years? And where do you purchase your raw material?
Zafer Kaplan: We mostly buy the rags and snippets in Turkey. PET bottles are mostly imported from all over the world. The quality of the snippets is indeed getting worse and worse in the last years in Turkey. We clearly note more contamination in the production process. The threads of the fancy items in clothing production are of a poor basic quality, unfortunately.
The various basic qualities certainly require a special approach to the processing of the raw materials. How do you sort and cut the textile waste?
Zafer Kaplan: There is no way around manual sorting. Our operators are very experienced in evaluating materials. Manual sorting is essential. Also we carry out precutting and shredding processes.
From your point of view: The main challenges of the textile recycling process are….
Zafer Kaplan: It’s all about good people and the best machinery. We attach great importance to that constantly growing experience of our team, whether management or operator. Also the capability, technology and quality of the production machines are very significant.
One of the hardest parts of your business is the production of constant quality. How do you manage it?
Zafer Kaplan: We have a well-trained laboratory team in our company which guides the operators with constantly acquired knowledge and which controls the whole production process.
What are the benefits of Truetzschler machines for your process and – of course – the yarn quality you achieve?
Zafer Kaplan: In our plant we have TC 03, TC 07, TC 11, TC 15, TC 19i, so to say: all types of Truetzschler cards. And we are very satisfied with the quality and the capability of the whole Truetzschler equipment. I would say they are the key machines in the regenerated spinning process.
How do you determine the mix of materials in your end product in view of the European Textile Labeling Act?
Zafer Kaplan: Of course we have a chemical laboratory. All necessary tests regarding the material composition are carried out there.
Sustainability is a big future issue for all of us. What challenges and developments do you expect for the future?
Zafer Kaplan: The competition is getting harder. There is a great demand for recycled yarn on the market, but what’s missing are enough good raw materials.
For which applications the produced yarn will be used?
Zafer Kaplan: We produce yarns for almost all textiles, clothing, upholstery, socks, carpets and much more. 50 percent of the production remains in Turkey, the other half is exported to 16 different countries, including Germany, Belgium and North America.