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Time Is Opportune for Non-hazardous Apparel Accessories

In 1982, Prem Kumar founded Bangalore Sales Corporation as a trading company. Initially, it operated by purchasing goods from one source and selling them to another. Over time, the business expanded significantly. Subsequently, the company diversified into manufacturing, producing hangers, polyester buttons, and various accessory solutions for the apparel industry.

As a licensee of Uniplast, one of the world’s largest hanger companies, Bangalore Sales Corporation holds a significant presence in India. Their manufacturing capabilities are impressive, with over 200,000 recycled hangers produced daily.

In a recent interview with The Interview World at Bharat Tex 2024, Sharmila Das, the Vice President of Marketing at Bangalore Sales Corporation, shared insights into their sustainability efforts in hanger and button manufacturing. Here are the highlights from her discussion.

Q: What steps have you taken in your sustainability journey within the manufacturing of apparel accessories?

A: In the beginning, our focus was on producing recycled hangers. As global awareness regarding sustainability grew, we expanded our operations to include the manufacturing of buttons. Both our hanger and button plants are located in Bangalore, coexisting harmoniously. When renowned brands like H&M and Marks & Spencer expressed interest in sustainable hangers and buttons, we recognized the need to adapt. Initially faced with the challenge of producing sustainable buttons from polyester, we responded by eliminating styrene from the equation, aligning with evolving global standards. This innovation positioned us as pioneers in offering sustainable solutions to companies like Levi’s.

These global brands set stringent requirements, prompting us to address various chemical concerns previously overlooked. Through rigorous testing of raw materials and collaboration with NGOs, particularly through our partnership with H&M, we embarked on a project to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into polyester buttons. This endeavor posed unexpected challenges due to the chemical diversity of polyester. However, through perseverance, we successfully developed buttons containing up to 50% recycled PET content. Our commitment extends beyond sustainability; we prioritize durability to ensure our buttons withstand everyday use on garments. As we continue to innovate, our goal remains to maximize the utilization of recycled materials, striving for even greater sustainability in our products.

Q: What were the primary obstacles encountered throughout your sustainable business journey?

A: Various challenges arise in obtaining the desired color for our buttons as we employ pet bottles and introduce colors. Achieving transparency akin to raw materials proves challenging due to this process. However, our meticulous processing methods allow us to successfully produce buttons. We take immense pride in our role in mitigating plastic waste on both a global and local scale. Our commitment to recycling extends to our use of cotton fabric, which undergoes processing and compression before being transformed into durable buttons. Despite the complexities involved, our buttons maintain strength comparable to traditional plastic ones. This dedication underscores our efforts to contribute positively to environmental sustainability while providing quality products to our customers.

Q: What is the current market response both domestically in India and internationally?

A: Across the globe, particularly in Europe, there’s an escalating emphasis on sustainability. This trend is rapidly gaining momentum, rendering traditional materials less viable in the marketplace. Even commonplace items like hangers and buttons are undergoing a transition toward more environmentally friendly alternatives, with plastics increasingly favored. Europe stands out for its proactive response, leading the charge in implementing sustainable practices.

While the USA is making commendable strides, its progress trails slightly behind Europe’s proactive approach. However, there’s optimism as the USA demonstrates a growing commitment to sustainability. Meanwhile, in India, there’s a notable acceleration in embracing eco-conscious practices. Despite starting from a slightly behind position, India is catching up on the sustainability journey, showcasing a promising trajectory towards a greener future.

Q: What is the current market size for buttons and hangers, including both domestic and international sales?

A: The market for buttons and hangers is undeniably vast and ever-changing. Hangers alone command a global output valued between a few billion to three billion dollars, a testament to the sheer scale of demand. The dynamics of this market are particularly pronounced in India, where trends and preferences fluctuate rapidly. However, gauging the market for sustainable buttons and hangers proves challenging due to inherent complexities. Conventional products often contain hazardous substances like cyanide, styrene, and lead, making them environmentally unfriendly.

In stark contrast, our products boast an absence of these harmful elements, aligning with sustainable practices. Consequently, determining the segment-wise market size for our comparative offerings remains a daunting task. Nevertheless, as awareness of sustainability grows and consumer preferences evolve, there exists a promising niche for eco-friendly alternatives in the broader market landscape.

Q: What strategic plans do you have in place to drive and sustain growth for your business over the next five years?

A: Given our current scale, I foresee a potential growth of at least 250 percent. In this dynamic market, rapid adaptation is key to progress; the quicker we learn and respond to its needs, the faster we advance. Stagnation risks limiting us to our initial product offerings, stunting our development. However, by diligently adhering to sustainability standards, we position ourselves ahead of competitors. Our commitment not only fosters growth but also ensures longevity in the market, solidifying our reputation as industry leaders.

Eco-friendly Buttons Manufactured by Bangalore Sales Corporation
Eco-friendly Buttons Manufactured by Bangalore Sales Corporation
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