From waste to clothing – Fibre2Fashion

Plastic waste from PET bottles is the main cause of generating huge piles of waste in the world. Since PET is a petrochemically synthesized polymer compound, it poses a serious threat to the environment as it is not biodegradable and causes pollution of land, water and air. Chemically, PET is polyethylene terephthalate, a form of polyester that is extruded or molded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging food, beverages and consumer products. PET is widely used and is the preferred packaging material due to its transparent form, light weight, high strength and low cost. Post-consumer PET waste is usually discarded and discarded as trash.

Reduce, reuse and recycle are the three possible ways to minimize the threat of this PET bottle waste. However, due to the various consumer-friendly usage advantages and cost-effectiveness, the “reduction” of consumption seems the least likely, on the contrary the production of PET is continuously increasing due to its increasing demand. Although “reuse” of PET material often occurs in developing economies, the extent of this reuse is limited. Therefore, the only way to control this threat is to “recycle” waste PET bottles.

Recycling PET bottles allows the conservation of natural sources such as fossil fuels, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces carbon footprint and creates new business opportunities. Therefore, recycling PET bottles is considered the best option to economically reduce PET waste. The main advantages of recycling PET bottle waste are:

Reduces landfill area

Avoid water pollution

Minimizes soil contamination

Reduces oil consumption

Helps create wealth from waste

Improves durability

PET waste is converted into r-PET (recycled PET) for the manufacture of clothing, and clothing brands as well as fashion-savvy consumers are eager and enthusiastic to try such clothing made from plastic bottles. used PET. Additionally, as oil prices rise, r-PET becomes financially feasible in place of virgin PET manufacturing. The current trend indicates that PET waste recycling will reach 25 million tons by 2025.

Production of r-PET: The steps involved in this process are as follows:

1. PET bottles are sterilized, dried and crushed into small chips

2. Chips are heated and passed through a die to form wire chains

3. The yarn is then passed through a curling machine to create a fluffy texture

4. The yarn is then baled, dyed and knitted into polyester fabric.

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Advantages of r-PET over virgin PET

r-PET prevents plastics from being incinerated, landfilled or ending up as marine litter.

It requires much less energy and saves nearly 50% CO2 emissions.

It reduces the demand for crude oil and natural gas and controls emissions from incinerators.

It has different applications, such as textiles, insulation, chairs and benches.

It enables brands to achieve their sustainability goals.

Some limitations of r-PET

Weakening of tensile strength

Yellowing and discoloration

Reduce shade brightness

Increased microfiber formation and pilling

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Corrective actions

1. Use a suitable surfactant. This helps overcome the interfacial tension between water and dirt/oil/soil and improves cleaning efficiency. Removes contaminants by solubilization, suspension or emulsification mechanism. The resulting effect improves the basic whiteness of r-PET.

2. Increase cleaning temperature. This provides enough energy needed to break the bonds between soil and dirt. Treatment at 130°C tends to increase the whiteness of the base.

3. Use bleach. Use oxidative bleaches like hydrogen peroxide, sodium chlorite, sodium hypochlorite, and calcium hypochlorite to remove colored impurities and increase the whiteness and brightness of r-PET.

4. Add fluorescent brightener. Adding an appropriate high temperature stable optical brightener in the optimum amount helps overcome the yellowing/fading effect and improves fiber appearance and tint brightness.

In this way, PET waste can be collected and turned from waste into clothing.

Michael O. Stutler