Plastic bottles. They hold our precious liquids, and sometimes catch the occasional firefly. Once these bottles have served their purpose however, many are thrown out or are sent to a recycling plant. A previous school of thought determined that, once these bottles were recycled at such plants, they would seemingly be turned into, you guessed it, more bottles. More recently however, as we’ve detailed here in our blog, recycling has transcended passed the mundane, and has been used as raw materials for tangible goods that particularly the youth would enjoy. i.e. sneakers and Dr. Dre’s “Beats” headphones.
The latest product fitting within this trend is “Eco-Fi,” a polyester fiber developed by U.S. company Wellman Inc. which uses plastic bottles as one of its main materials. According to the website:
“The Eco-fi process has the capacity to keep almost 3 billion plastic PET soda bottles out of the world’s landfills each year, saving over 1/2 million barrels of oil and eliminating 400,000 tons of harmful air emissions which contribute to acid rain, global warming and smog. The amount of petroleum saved by using post-consumer bottles instead of virgin materials in the manufacturing process annually is enough to supply power to a city the size of Atlanta for an entire year.”
In a sort of Frankenstein-ish way, the plastic bottles are cut up into tiny strands which are then sterilized and later placed into large vats of water. Here, the fibers are heated and developed into a thick and durable fiber. Subsequently, the fiber is stretched and adapted to fit the style and type of clothing intended. The feat is truly amazing and a huge success for the green movement.
Ultimately, recycling has now gone beyond the mundane of reusing the material for the same purpose. Recycling has become an art form in that, ordinary plastic bottles are being transformed into extraordinary goods, a poor man’s alchemy if you will.