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Manufacturing of fabric by recycling plastic bottles: An ecological approach (Part 1: Necessity)

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Shamsuzzaman Rasel1  & Joy Sarkar2

  1. Lecturer, Department of Textile Engineering, World University of Bangladesh (WUB)
  2. Assistant Professor, Department of Textile Engineering, Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET) 

Introduction

Plastics industry has developed considerably due to their low weight, durability and low cost [1]. Estimated worldwide plastics polymer produced approximately 260 million metric tonnes in 2007 [2] that increased to 300 million metric tonnes in 2017. Approximately 50% plastics are disposable that are using to manufacture different long infrastructure [3] where 15-20% plastics bottles are exists. This huge amount of plastics bottles are just thrown after its first use to the environment, however it is not certainly about the longevity of plastics as they are non-biodegradable [4]. Each plastic bottle can take up to 700 years to perish. This is an alarming rate at which the numbers of used plastic bottles are increasing in the landfills, pose high risk to the environment.

Today, green garment is being made by using plastic water bottles which are considered as a threat to the environment. Green clothing obtains from sustainable materials like hemp, bamboo or recycled plastic, called sustainable clothing [5]. There is no major difference with respect to the quality or texture between the clothes made from recycled material and normally made garments [6]. Therefore, recycled plastic reduce air, water and soil pollution as there is a decrease of carbon emission [7].

During last five years some clothing companies, businesses and environmental organizations have started spinning plastic bottle into yarn then to fabric to tackle global plastic pollution. Not only entrepreneurs but also fashion designers are coming to support the environment. For example Brazilian team’s total outfit wearing T-shirts made from recycled plastics bottles in the last world cup

In this writing some common factors are discussing that would hoping to encourage the industry to take necessary steps to start plastic bottle recycling to fabric.

Problems with plastic bottles

According to the report by the EU municipality, 520kg waste was produced per person per year in 2003 which would be 680kg by 2020 where 40kg per person produce plastic related wastage that is approximately 7-8% by weight [1].

(a) Landfill problem

When plastics debris are transported to a fixed area to dump together ultimate results would be the risks of contamination of soils and groundwater [8].] UK urges a tax till 2010 to landfill however they also turning to plastic recycling in case of the loss of infertility of soil that affects plants and other animals.

(b) Incineration and energy recovery problem

Presence of PVC and halogenated additives in the plastic bottles are leading to the risk of release of dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and furans into environment [8]. As a result waste management systems fails and rising pollution risks. Some countries are adopting incineration infrastructure for waste management strategies that can recover energy content in the plastic. This recovered energy can be used on power plant, blast furnaces, and/or cement kilns. However, plastic breakdown requires a lot of energy.

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  1. c)  Chemicals release

The life cycles of plastic bottles are approximately 450 -1000 years for plastic to degrade. When they bring under consideration to burnt, it emits some dangerous chemicals to the environment such as Bisphenol A that hampers the nearby water supply.  A survey says that fisheries animals would die for such chemical attacks due to unrecoverable disease attack to them.

  1. d) The Human Impact

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to make the plastic bottle hard and clear which has been proven to hazardous to human health to certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, new born baby and premature labor etc. [www.scientificamerican.com] A study found that 96% of women in the U.S. have BPA in their body specially pregnant women’s placentas and growing foetuses. Therefore, PVC and Phthalates are using to produce plastic that also responsible to sperm count, testicular abnormality and tumours and gender development issues [9].  

  1. e) The Animal Impact

Consumption of plastic bottles and caps causing the death of sea animals. Recently one albatross was found dead on a Haiwaiian island full of 119 bottle caps. This had done when animals consume plastic bottles or caps considering as their foods. It is thought that the amount of plastics would be more than the number of animal species lives in ocean by 2050. This would become a huge environmental issue to the scientists to think in recent future [10].

Plastic and plastic bottle consumption per yarn

Every product is dependent on plastic materials nowadays where this rate increasing alarmingly. During several stages of manufacturing the uses of plastic and plastic bottles are increasing. According to the report by US 2016 the following data is observed.

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From the report it is clearly can be seen that the amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity which will reach-screenshot-52

Necessity of plastic bottle recycling and Environmental sustainability

It is always considered best if products could be made by recycling rather than virgin materials are more environmental friendly and cost effective. However, recycling is done on a limited range its impact on environment is bigger. Sustainability is the sum of all parts that ensures the required mechanical properties of the newly produced products. Here one thing must be noted if sustainability is considered then all other factors are not taken into consideration [12].

We should recycle plastic bottles because –

To make environment clean and safe

Plastics thrown out to the environment cannot be discarded and exists years to years however it does not exhaust. A million numbers of tons of plastics bottles are producing and are throwing after its first use are blocking to the ecological systems. Only a sustainable recycling could clean the environment and make a safer earth to the world species.

To conserve virgin materials and use of old products which are of no use

Only a creative thinking of designers, technicians and manufacturers could recycle plastic bottles into sports clothing and vehicle interiors. Only raising of environmental awareness could inspire such thinking. As a result virgin material uses reduced [13].

To saves energy instead of dispose or damping bottles

For recycling a ton of plastics bottle can saved a ton of petrol and 500m3 (17,657 cubic feet) of natural gases. Nowadays it has already become a crucial secondary raw material that can avoid dangerous and toxic pollution as well as make considerable savings [14]. 

To reduce garbage from landfills, waterline etc.

All types of plastics are exists in some form because plastics takes hundreds of years to decompose to the landfill. So there is only one way to recycle them.

To reduce the fossil fuel consumption

Stanford University, about 7,200 KWH of electricity could save if only one ton of plastic bottle is recycled that can serve energy of a house to run seven month. According to EIA (Energy Information Administration) approximately 191 million crude oil were used in 2010 to make plastics. Plastic bottles are economical to make, safe and recycle where it contains toughness, energy savings and easy of production. So it has become a crucial point to recycle [14].

Easier process to recycle in case of rugged and safeness

Handling of plastic bottles is very easy as it is rugged and resilient because they are made from long chain molecules together. They are tougher and low affinity to chemical reaction so re-melt and reuse is very easy.

To mould and reshapes are easier during recycling

During bottle moulding a wide variety of shapes and their properties are obtained. It can range from crystal clear to any shade or color so that anyone could identify the products easily. Furthermore colouring materials could be added to the resins that never runs, rubs or washed off during melting.

Product variety is possible

Recycling of PET is using to produce secondary products includes carpet fibres, pillow stuffing, bags, strapping materials and fibre for yarn. Now a days the lightweight properties of plastic bottles reduced the cost of transportation becoming popular worldwide specially textile fibre manufacturers.

References

  1. Barnes, D. K. A., Galgani, F., Thompson, R. C. & Barlaz, M. 2009 Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364, 1985–1998. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0205
  2. British Plastics Federation 2008. Oil consumption See http:// ww.bpf.co.uk/Oil_Consumption.aspx (20 October 2008).
  3. Barnes, D. K. A., Galgani, F., Thompson, R. C. & Barlaz, M. 2009 Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364, 1985–1998. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0205)
  4. In Plastics and the environ- ment (ed. A. Andrady), pp. 563–627. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Interscience. Fletcher, B. & Mackay, M. 1996
  5. Ggoclothing.com
  6. Plasticstoday.com
  7. Plasticsmakeitpossible.com
  8. www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov
  9. www.environmentalhealthnews.org
  10. www.sqs.org.uk
  11. World plastic consumption report, UK 2016
  12. www.trankpak.com/plastic pallets.
  13. www.conserve-energy-future.com
  14. A report on plastic recycling of European Commission, 2011
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