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From reusable T-shirts, grocery bags to reusable backpacks and containers, you may come across lines that state - “This material was made with recycled plastic”. On other products, you might notice the material being called rePET, rPET, or even rePETE. It does not matter what the name is, this term states that the material was made with recycled PET plastic.
But how can plastic products such as bottles be transformed into fabric? Is it a sustainable process? And what are the long-term benefits of buying rPET products? This article will cover all these questions and more. Let us begin by first understanding PET and how is it manufactured.
One of the most common plastic resins, PET is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate which is a polymer of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. To create virgin PET, natural gas and crude oil must be extracted from the earth. It must then be processed and heated to turn it into a molten liquid. The liquid is then spun into fibers to manufacture polyester fabric or it is molded and solidified into PET plastic containers.
As a molded container, PET can be used to hold your medication, cleaning solution, mouthwash, or even your favorite salad dressing and peanut butter. Also, disposable water bottles and most of your household containers are made from PET. As a fiber, PET can be used to make blankets, clothes, carpets, sleeping bags, and much more.
PET is one of the highly recyclable plastics out there. Used PET containers can be easily washed and melted into plasma, which can be used to craft new items. The only difficulty lies in collecting clean and high-quality plastics for recycling.
Manufacturers may not always be able to transform salvaged containers into new ones, but various other types of plastic can find a new calling as rPET or recycled polyester fabric. rPET can be used to manufacture a plethora of modern-day products such as T-shirts, hats, leggings, backpacks, and reusable grocery bags.
PET is extremely easy to recycle and you can usually tell PET products apart from their recycling label. What’s more, almost all recycling companies in India will accept PET products, depending on their shape and condition.
However, everything must be properly sorted and cleaned, so recycling trash will not work in this case. By recycling PET products we are offering second life to plastics, thereby reducing landfill pollution to a large extent.
When rPET products are used by companies, they provide immense value to recycled plastics and provide a thriving market. Just like any other business, recycling companies need to make some profit from the materials they collect, otherwise, they will stop collecting and recycling.
When consumers buy recycled products, they show that they value the company’s sustainability efforts. By creating demand and awareness for recycled products, we can help solidify recycling companies and ensure that recycled goods are viewed as valuable products in the production process.
The amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills can be drastically lowered with recycled plastics. By using rPET products we can ensure that plastics can be used freely without harming the ecosystem.
Almost 60% of virgin PET production is used to manufacture polyester textiles. By using rPET we are offsetting the number of new PET products that need to be manufactured and lower our extraction of oil and natural gas.
Energy is a huge part of the equation as well. Creating plastic products from recycled content can lower energy consumption by up to 75%. Although some water and energy will be utilized to process the plastics into new products, the amount is quite low compared to creating virgin plastics.
In conclusion, Recycling PET is not the be all end all. However, finding a new life for these used plastic products is a step in the right direction. By purchasing recycled plastic products, we can begin shifting the movement towards using what’s already available and reduce our environmental impact.