How do you turn a clear plastic bottle into fabric?
Limited natural resources create opportunities for innovation. It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing could be more true when describing the new recycled PET mesh fabric used in West County Gloves. All synthetics are petroleum based, so a looming oil crisis and spiraling prices pushed us to look for new raw material resources. Nearly 2 years later, West County now has the first recycled content gloves in the United States.
Trash or Treasure?
- Recycling cans and bottles for curbside pick-up is good. Converting recyclables into new products is even better. Reusing plastic takes less energy, uses fewer natural resources, and helps reduce landfills.
- Americans buy about 215 billion beverage containers every year. Of these, only about 14% of the plastic water containers end up in landfills or about 30 billion water bottles a year.
- It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade.
Turning Water Bottles into Fabric
- To convert recycled plastic, first the bottles are gathered, sorted by color, crushed, and baled.
- Next, they are shipped to a facility to be ground into 1/8” shards.
- The shards are then cleaned and sanitized before melting and extruding and chopping into uniform PET pellets.
- The pellets are then melted and put into a spinneret to produce a fine yarn that is blended with virgin poly and knit into West County fabric.
Empty plastic beverage bottles are collected, sorted, crushed & baled at a recycling center. Then ground into flakes, & screened and washed to remove caps, labels & contaminants.
The flakes are heated, further screened and cleaned, dried and placed in a vented extruder. The extruded plastic is cooled and then thoroughly chopped to make plastic pellets.
The pellets are sent to a yarn manufacturing facility where they are melted & spun into polyester fiber. The recycled PET fibers are blended with new PET fibers and spun into polyester yarn.
The polyester yarn is sent to a mill for knitting or weaving into fabric. The fabric is then sent to our manufacturing facilities to be made into the best gloves you will ever own!
Our Sustainability Goals West County Gardener is committed to developing high quality, innovative products that are less harmful to the environment. We are working to reduce the amount of non-recycled materials used in all aspects of our products and packaging. Our efforts are incremental, but represent small, positive steps towards making a difference for the environment. We hope our efforts spur others to do the same.