From PET to clothing: eco-fashion is coming

May 25, 2017 | written by:

Recycling of plastic bottles knows no limits: there are so many different ways to reuse this material and we've already talked to you on several occasions here, and also here but what you maybe have not yet learned is that some brands use PET bottles to make clothing.

In 2016, in fact, approximately 400,000 people across the U.S. wore gowns made from recycled bottles. But what are the pros and cons? Using PET in the field of fashion reduces our dependence on petroleum and clothing made from this material can be recycled again and again. The other side of the coin however is not sunshine and rainbows.

The biggest issue with recycled PET clothing is the microfibers they release. The fabric breaks down each time you wash it and tiny plastic fibers are flushed down the drain, end up in our oceans and,  because of their microscopic size, these microplastics become part of marine life. And if that's not enough, recycled PET is still plastic and, if this goes on, we will never completely get rid of it. Overall, though, recycling old plastic bottles into clothing is a great way to safeguard the environment.

How does this process work? Plastic water bottles are collected and transported to recycling facilities where the staff in charge separate green and clear plastics and remove caps. Only PET bottles (a type of plastic known as polyethylene terephthalate) are used to make fibers. The bottles are then washed, sterilized, dried, chopped up into small pieces and compressed into blocks. The dried plastic is heated until it becomes a sticky, pliable substance intended to be inserted into a machine and turned into threads that are stretched and pulled before being wound around a spool. The spools of PET-based yarn are then submerged in colored dyes and dyed yarn is inserted into a machine that turns the threads into bolts of knitted cloth. Finally, manufacturers purchase the bolts of cloth and use them to make clothing.

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