Fashion From Plastic Bottles!
It’s turning colder outside and winter is definitely here. When the temperatures drop, you want something really warm and cosy to wear. You might choose a lovely fleece fabric for example; warm, durable, lightweight, weather-resistant and deliciously soft to the touch. But could you hazard a guess at what your super-comfortable, fluffy garment is made from?
U.S. company, Wellman Inc., has developed a process to transform recycled plastic pop bottles into Eco-fi, a high-quality polyester fibre. Eco-fi can be further enhanced by blending it with other fibres such as cotton and wool. It’s mainly used to make waistcoats, trousers, throws, accessories and jackets but such is Eco-fi’s versatility, it’s also used in carpets, fibrefill and home furnishings.
Eco-fi and the processes used to make it could save almost three billion plastic pop bottles from ending up in landfill sites every year! This would potentially save half a million barrels of oil and would effectively eliminate 400,000 tons of air emissions thus reducing acid rain, smog and global warming.
Enough petroleum would be saved annually in the manufacturing process through the use of discarded bottles rather than virgin materials that a city the size of Atlanta could be powered for a whole year!
The whole process starts at your local recycling depot. The plastic pop bottles are sorted out and then baled. At this stage the plastic is technically referred to as PET - polyethylene terephthalate.
Once the bottles reach the processing plant, they have their tops and labels removed and they’re then separated by colour. The bottles are then sterilised, crushed and chopped into flakes. The minute pieces of flaked bottle are then placed into large vats where they’re melted down to produce a thick liquid. The liquid is then extruded through sieve-like devices to create fibrous stands of polyester.
The strands are stretched to make them stronger and thinner before being crimped, chopped into shorter lengths and baled. The bales of fibre are then shipped out to manufacturers for knitting and transformation into fabric.
The finished product
The finished fleece garments are pretty much identical in chemical constitution and functionality to non-recycled fleeces but that’s where the similarity ends. Eco-fi produces a soft, colour-fast, shrink-resistant luxurious fabric without the need for harmful herbicides or pesticides; it does not deplete the Earth’s natural resources nor does it require extensive use of energy in the production process.
We live in a throw-away society fuelled by greed and laziness. The Eco-fi brand shows just what can be done with a little innovation and technical application. In an age where the planet’s natural resources are fast disappearing and our global population is spiralling out of control, surely it’s time we began to make ‘new from old’ as a matter of course?
Image source: Best Design News
About Alison Page
Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies.