A T-shirt made of 200,000 used plastic bottles recently broke the world record. Photo: Plastindia.
200,000 Bottles for a T-Shirt
Classy eveningwear, sportswear, bags, lampshades and even objets d’art made of recyclable plastic can today already be produced on an industrial scale. Colourful prints and bold colours spread the feelgood factor here and revise the conventional image of eco fashion clothing. Thanks to innovative machinery and processing techniques waste packaging is made into high-quality granulate that can be processed into objects and clothing. Even Hollywood is taken by this.
The MET Gala in New York is the place for the most beautiful of them all – as already proven by actor Emma Watson who came to meet the press there in her Calvin Klein gown in 2016. And the fabric was certainly unusual: the US fashion firm developed a special process to shred plastic bottles to use as raw material for its “bionic yarn”. This is then recycled into a fabric for items of clothing. For some time now outdoor outfitters Polartec and O'Neill have also offered their customers functional wear and sporting items made of waste plastic. The material is particularly absorbent and therefore well suited for sporting activities. A world record has already been broken.
Beautiful and sustainable: Emma Watson in a Calvin Klein dress – made of waste plastic bottles. Photo: REX
Gigantic Shirt for a Good Cause
After about eight years ago when the biggest T-shirt in the world measuring almost 65 metres long and weighing a good 1,500 kilos was presented the Plastindia Foundation is now impressing us in South Africa with an even larger shirt. It is 97.5 m x 70.08 m in size and made out of a total of 200,000 plastic bottles. However, this T-shirt will not continue to exist for ever – at least not in its current form: soon the fabric is already to be used to make some 10,000 smaller variations and to be distributed to needy children.
O’Neill makes clothing out of bottles washed up on the beach. Photo: O’Neill Blue
Less Energy and Water Consumption
Other initiatives clean the beaches of plastic waste to use for making new textiles. One example, again from O’Neill, is a collection entitled “Our Ocean Mission”. All items are made of recycled plastic collected on beaches. According to company reports, a total of 200,000 bottles have been transformed into shorts and T-shirts.
As a rule, the old packaging is first cleaned, processed and woven into thread – at times made of up to 100% recycled polyester, at others blended with canvas or cotton. On average, it is believed that recycling versus new production saves about 80% energy and up to 90% water.
Classrooms made of Plastic Bottles
It is not just articles of clothing and everyday items that can be made of waste plastic. In the South African province of Gauteng there are children taught in school using teaching materials made of recycled plastic bottles. Founded five years ago the company Botlleworx developed Bottle2Build – a way to press used packaging into square bottles. The walls of a total of 45 classrooms now already consist of these solid structures. Some 90,000 bottles are needed for each individual room. As soon as the steel framework is up the bottles are packed in tightly together and the walls are finally plastered. This makes them waterproof and also saves on energy costs throughout the year thanks to the bottles’ natural insulation properties.
It is also possible to build buildings like schools out of plastic bottles, as shown by projects care of the company Bottleworx. Photo: Bottleworx