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Recycling Plastic Into Clothing: Sustainable Or Harmful?

Recycling Plastic Into Clothing: Sustainable Or Harmful?
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Can we fully manage the risks -- both environmental and health-related-- that come with recycling plastic into polyester?

Don Michael Acelar De Leon
  • 10 april 2012

Among the numerous initiatives that have been taken to recycle plastic for further use and reduce the human carbon footprint around the world, one of the most worthy is transforming old, shredded plastic into polyester thread that may be used in clothing, upholstery, and many other purposes. The complex, multi-tiered process (shown in the video below) involves shredding the recycled plastic to remove unwanted liquid, bathing the plastics multiple times in corrosive material and mixing them together for ten hours, sending the mixture through a rotating screw at 270 degrees Celsius, and forcing the melted mixture into a sift to create the threads. The unrefined threads are then combined, stretched, torn, and bonded together multiple times to produce a uniform material that can be used for clothing.

While the recycling process shows great promise and potential in reducing waste, health and waste obligations also have to be taken into consideration since the toxic fumes and corrosive materials generated and used in the recycling process prove to be dangerous, if not potentially fatal to the workers who may get into contact with them. Apart from looking after the safety of the workers, areas for improvement also include filtering the potentially poisonous fumes created by melting the plastic at high temperatures to avoid contaminating the air.

Are we ready to recycle plastic for clothing? Check out the recycling technology in the video below and judge for yourself.

Image via Core77

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