Innovations to plastic pollution have arisen, by recycling plastic bottles. This innovation has been shortened to rPET. But what is it?
To answer this question we must first ask. What is PET?
What is PET?
PET is polyethene terephthalate. This plastic element is used to make packagings such as plastic bottles and food containers. PET is a highly recyclable plastic. Once consumers use PET products (containers etc) they are returned to a recycling centre that sorts, cleans and transforms these containers into plastic flakes or pellets. These are then used to make a fibre that can be turned into the rPET fabric.
Manufacturers may not always be able to turn all recycled plastic into new products. For example, recycled plastic bottles can now be transformed into recycled polyester fabric or rPET. In addition, rPET fabric can be used to make products such as clothes, including, t-shirts, leggings, backpacks and even reusable shopping bags.
How is rPET fabric made?
These are the steps included for the process of making rPET fabric:
- The selection process – Plastic bottles are collected and sorted, from clear plastic and coloured plastic.
- The cleaning process – The bottles are then cleaned; labels are removed, and bottle caps are removed. Advanced equipment such as infrared NIR equipment and metal detector removes any non-PET components.
- Shredding – The bottles are shredded into flakes using hot air processes. The flakes are then cleaned again and thoroughly checked so there are no impurities.
- Processing – The flakes go through a de-polymerisation and re-polymerisation process which turns them into PET chips or pellets.
- Melting – These pellets are then melted and extruded. They are then smoothed, stretched and placed on a spinneret in order to make tiny filaments.
- Yarn to fabric – The filaments are stretched over heated rollers and spooled together. After this, it is ready to be woven or knitted into fabric.
Benefits of RPET Fabric
As already mentioned recycled plastic process can be developed in products such as RPET fabric, which helps to reduce the impact of plastic pollution and consumption as an alternative to virgin plastic.
Furthermore, recycled PET yarn reduces the extraction of crude oil and natural gases from the earth. Thus, using recycled plastic minimises our reliance on petroleum as a source of raw materials. (Source, Fashion United)
In addition, recycled PET has a lower carbon footprint than virgin polyester, as 85% less energy is required. As a result, this minimises carbon emissions.
Furthermore, plastic bottles take about 700-1000 years to decompose, so getting them out of the oceans, landfills and waterways is important. RPET fabric not only allows the reduction of waste polluting the earth but it revives it (Source, The World Counts).
To conclude, for the reasons stated above, rPET fabric is the new innovative fabric that will revolutionise the fashion industry. From activewear to grocery bags, there are endless opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.
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