It would be unbelievable for a person to say that he or she is wearing a garment made from pet bottles, or milk, or fruit juice bottles. Incredible, but it's true. The new top purchased recently could have been made out of a cool drink bottle drunk months before. Fibres of a gorgeous suit might be the remains of a 'once before' plastic bottle. Recycled plastic bottles can now be produced into fibres which can be used in making apparels and home textiles. The latest development in the fabric world is the use of recycled plastic.
Plastic recycling process started in the early 80s when buyers got a small amount as refund when they returned the empty bottles. Plastic bottles amount to 7% of the total household waste; by weight. An average household uses 400 plastic bottles a year. Almost 15 million plastic bottles are used annually. These plastic bottles can be recycled into foam, spun into fibers which makes its appearance clear, and can be mixed effectively with cotton to make a white T-shirt.
Types of plastic bottles that can be recycled:
- PET bottles: e.g. cooking oil bottles, shower gel bottles, fizzy drink bottles etc. They can be recycled into fibres for sleeping bags, anoraks, floor coverings, fleece clothing etc. 25 two liters pop bottles are used to make one adult size fleece jacket.
- HDPE bottles: e.g. milk and fruit juice bottle, fabric conditioner, and house hold cleaning bottles etc. They can be used for making fences, signposts and can also be made into bottles again.
- PVC bottles: e.g. mineral water bottles, shampoo bottles etc. They can be used for making electrical fittings, drainage pipes, and clothing.
The Recycling Process:
It might feel a little apprehensive to think that clothes are made from thrown away plastic bottles. But, they go through a number of processes before they are finally converted into fabrics and reach the racks of the clothing store. The bottles are sorted and separated manually or mechanically and are separated according to their types. Each type of polymer is processed separately by washing and granulating them. These flakes are dried later, refined and made into new products like bags, bed liners, clothing etc. The flakes are melted then extruded through a shower head type device and made into polyester strands. The strands are then stretched out to thin out and make them strong. These fibres are made into fabrics and are used for making apparels, home furnishings and other products creatively and usefully.
Plastics that cannot be recycled:
- LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) like bin liners, engine oil containers, and carrier bags.
- PP (Polypropylene) like margarine tubs, plant pots, and microwave meal trays.
- PS (Polystyrene) like burger boxes, meat trays, drinking cups, and yoghurt pots.
Every time a plastic bottle is being recycled, it reduces the effect of green house gases, thereby reducing their carbon foot print. Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves 1.5 tones of CO2 which is the main gas connected with global warming.
Almost 22% of the plastic bottles
are currently being recycled. Industry experts state that if people are aware
of recycling, and utilize their used bottles for the same, manufacturers will
have the capacity to process 35% more than what they are processing now. Fleece
is made from polyester, a petroleum based synthetic which can be spun into
fibres and later made into fabric. Surgical gloves can be mixed with cardboard
along with old tires for making shoes. 25 two liters plastic pop bottle can
make one fleece pull over. 15 bottles can make a fleece vest. Recycled pop
bottles make smoother polyester for making T-shirts. Apart from this various
other products like handbags, shoes, umbrellas, wallets etc can also be made
out of recycled plastic.
Products from Recycled plastic bottles
Manufacturing costs are 10% more for making recycled clothes because of the additional expenses that incur in collecting the bottles. If the manufacturers and retailers share and absorb this cost, the garments can be priced in competitive rates.
Fizz in the fashions of tomorrow:
Clothing from recycled plastics has made their way into life even without the people being aware of it. A stunning fleece jacket might be made out of dozens of old soda bottles. Synthetic fleece is an output of polyester, and polyester is spun plastic. Recycled plastic fibres can be blended effectively with other fibres to produce amazing apparels. These fabrics have come into spotlight through fashion shows. Clothes, swimsuits, and designer jewellery made from recycled plastic bottles, tires, and aluminum are seen on the runways.
Fashion outputs of recycled plastic
There are many sides of fashion which many of them are unaware. With the changing fad, each garment that is being purchased has an own pollution footprint, causing environmental concerns. The piece of apparel that fills the consumers' wardrobe also burdens the environment. But recycled plastic fabrics are more environmentally friendly because it does not use pesticides or insecticides in its cycle. With the increasing awareness of environmental hazards, and global warming scenario, more people prefer to wear eco friendly clothes. Thus recycled plastic apparels will have a promising market in the future.
Today 18.5% of the solid wastes are being recycled. This process saves landfills and money, and protects natural resources as well. It is not just putting used plastic bottles out of the curb. People should encourage this process by buying recycled products.