Wednesday, August 19

From bottle to bag

You know that old saying, “you learn something new every day”?

I find that to be especially true when it comes to my green journey. It amazes me all the new things that I am learning about on a daily basis.

New things like the process of keeping all those disposable plastic water bottles out of the landfill by turning them into fabric and then using that fabric to make products like purses and laptop bags.

Here is how GreenSmart turns bottles into bags:

  • Bottles are hand sorted by the collector to remove non-PET and other visual impurities.
    The greater the separation process, the more value the resulting material has since the refinement process will require fewer steps.
  • After sorting bottles are compacted into bales for efficient transport to processing plants. One bale is over 6000 bottles, enough to process into 350 yards of finished fabric.
  • Bales are ground into a rough material called PET flakes to be prepared for conversion to a raw material source. The fewer impurities (bottle screw tops or necks, foreign plastics, etc.) the greater the possibilities for the flakes. Low quality flakes may not qualify for reconsideration as fabric.
  • After washing, the highest quality ground flakes are chemically separated from impurities and converted to PET chips through a process known as de-polymerizing and re-polymerizing.
  • Once complete, the resulting fibers can be woven into yarns.
  • PET fibers are separated by size and fed into yarn twisting machinery. The process of converting fibers to yarns has changed little over the centuries except to become more automated. Depending on fiber size. Fibers of specific size determine the size (denier) of the resulting yarns. These yarns are then spooled for use in weaving.
  • Each yard of finished fabric has consumed approximately 18, 16 oz. bottles and saved 10,000 Btus from manufacturing; enough power to light a 17 watt compact fluorescent light for 15 hours.
I think this process is ingenious.

Of course the better way would be to not have all those disposable plastic bottles in the first place but since we do.....I am glad that companies like GreenSmart are finding ways to use them.


Kim Kasch said...

I used to use plastic bottles until I saw the ocean of plastic we were creating :(

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and those pictures truly are….