With the dark nights looming and the daylight skies shortening it only means one thing, we’re approaching the cold and frosty chill of the British winter.
Gone are the days where we could slip on a pair of sandals and soak up the summer sun; we are now looking to delve deep into our winter wardrobes to pluck out our thicker garments – your grandma’s knitted cardigan or your latest high street jumper. However we often don’t look far past the design of our clothing and its aesthetics. Did you know the materials that make up our winter wardrobes often come from waste packaging?
But how’s that possible I hear you ask! Let’s take plastic bottles for example; plastic packaged products such as your 500ml bottle of coke can be turned into polyester fibres. The polymer that makes up these polyester fibres is called Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). These fibre strands can then be used just like thread to create new fabric, which can then be re-produced into clothing.
Our work with plastic bottles involves the collection, compression and baling of the recyclable material before being transported to the mills. It’s here at the reprocessing factory where the plastic bottles are washed, flaked and sorted by type and colour. In a crushed state the recycled plastic flakes are then heated until melted to produce both long and short fibres for yarn production. This yarn can be woven or knitted in the same way as any other fabric, thus helping to create a sustainable system for turning/recycling waste into clothing.
Alternatively, PET can be recycled into the plastic commonly used for soft drink bottles. For this, specialist equipment is again used to separate and sort the plastic before the materials are transported to a reprocessing plant where they are flaked. These flakes are then washed and cleaned so they meet the same standards as new (or ‘virgin’) material. This means they can be used to make food-grade packaging and plastic bottles again – another way that we help close the recycling loop.
It was reported that five billion plastic bottles were sent to landfill in the UK in 2012. At Printwaste we collect and recycle on average 100 tonnes of plastic bottles a month, but as recycling champions we know there’s more to be done to improve UK sustainability rates. Did you know that it only takes as little as 25 two litre bottles of coke to make one winter fleece (adult large), as demonstrated by our very fine assistant here at Printwaste HQ? Think about how many plastic bottles your family, business or you yourself consume within a week.
So next time you’re pouring a bottle of coke just think by recycling that bottle you could help provide someone else with a warmer Christmas this year.