How can we Transform Plastic into Clothes and Why we need this?

How can we Transform Plastic into Clothes and Why we need this?

Textile industry must strive hard to convert plastic into clothes in order to save our environment.

The term ‘Clothing’ collectively refers to all the items worn on the body. Clothes are an essential part of our lives as all the human societies have a unanimous consensus on this idea. However, the amount and type of clothing might vary for a number of reasons like the geographical and social constraints. The fact that a lot of people consider clothes as a vital form of expression has given a massive boost to the industry of textiles and clothing. The advancement in clothing industry did bring revolutionary improvements to our clothes but all that happened at a significant cost.

The Dame Ellen MacArthur’s foundation published a report last year, which claimed that 1.2 tons of greenhouse emissions are generated annually by the fashion industry. Similarly, it was revealed that one garbage truck full of textiles is either burnt or landfilled every second as more than half of fast fashion production is disposed of in under a year. Last but not the least, 93 billion cubic meters of water (annually) is needed to produce these clothes and it is a serious problem in water-scarce regions. The experts behind this study explained that all these factors, combined with an extremely low rate of recycling, are putting some serious pressure on our environment.

The ever-increasing quantities of plastic is another devastating problem for our environment which needs to be controlled on an emergency basis. For this reason, the Earth Day Network urged retailers and clothing brands to recycle plastic waste and create garments out of that. They also tried to spread the message to the consumers by demonstrating the impacts of plastics. A lot of companies around the globe are trying to manufacture recycled fibers and they must be appreciated for their work. At the same time, other stakeholders need to take inspiration from these people and play their role in preserving our environment by making it plastic-free.

Aquafil is one of the leading names in this domain as they produce Nylon 6 from 100% regenerated waste materials by making use of their Econyl Regeneration System. This system became operational in 2011 after an investment of 25 million Euros. The primary task designated to this amazing system was to create nylon polymers from pre and post-consumer waste. Earlier this year, H&M collaborated with Aquafil for the H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection which (for the first time) offered featured pieces made from the Econyl yarn. Giulio Bonazzi, the President of Aquafil, expressed his delight in the following words:

Aquafil is thrilled to have Econyl adopted by H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection. We have been working on this with H&M for more than two years, and it was wonderful to see it come to fruition. We are particularly excited about this partnership because H&M’s fashion is so accessible to the everyday consumer – which is in line with our vision for Econyl.”

Likewise, a lot of other companies including G-Star Raw, Ganesha Ecosphere, Timberland, and Ecoalf are recycling plastics for manufacturing their clothes.

Once we have acknowledged the importance of transforming plastic into clothes, we need to know how it can be done. First of all, the recycling material (mostly bottles) is transferred to a recycling center. At this center, a process called ‘Shredding’ (crushed to bits) is performed which eliminates any moisture from this plastic as it can affect the recycling process, adversely. Once this procedure is complete, these plastic flecks are sent to a textile company. Upon reaching there, all these bundles are sorted on the basis of their color. Clear plastic is filtered out because it gives a quality white thread which can be dyed to the color of our choice. Harder plastic is removed during this phase as it cannot be used for making a thread.

The selected plastic is then bathed in water and chemical. It is then left to dry for about 10 hours which ultimately gives us clear and clean plastic. Obviously, we can’t just sew these flecks so it is melted. After that, this molten plastic is passed through tiny holes which produce extremely thin threads (filaments). Lastly, these filaments are torn again into fluff which is straightened to get the thread. This process is very much similar to the production of cotton. Now that you have got the thread, you are all set to manufacture the clothes you want.

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