Heeding the call for a more sustainable solution to our plastic waste problem, many companies have begun to start a lineup of recycled activewear in Australia. Plastics that are most likely to end up in landfills or the oceans are being converted into more useful activewear.
Australia is one of the places that seems to have it all. Because Australia is the smallest continent, the country is surrounded by long pristine beaches suitable for beach activities and surfing. Australia is also where the Great Barrier Reef is located. However, Australia’s beautiful coastlines and picturesque beaches are exposed to increasing solid waste pollution.
Most of the solid waste pollution that has invaded the oceans are single-use plastics. The average Australian uses around 130 kilograms of plastic per year, with only nine percent recycled plastic. Most of the 130,000 accumulated tons of plastic eventually get carried into the oceans, damaging marine life and habitat. Besides being harmful to marine life, studies have shown that plastics, especially the microplastics, have entered the food chain, which means that the food we eat may contain trace amounts of these discarded plastics.
The Durability of Plastic. It is undeniable that plastics’ versatility and durability have made it an integral part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, there are still many establishments and businesses that still allow single-use plastics, which are designed to be discarded after being used once. Fortunately, recycled activewear in Australia has found a way to use these discarded plastics into activewear clothing. Here are the steps in making plastics into clothing.
Step 1. Collecting, Liquid Removal, and Shredding. Recycled plastic bottles are collected and are taken to a recycling centre. They are then shredded into small pieces. The shredding process allows the remaining liquid from the bottles to exit. Once the liquid is removed, the plastic shreds are then packed in boxes and shipped to enter step 2.
Step 2. Sorting and Cleaning. The shredded bottles are then sorted according to colour and type. They are sorted into clear, coloured, bottle lids, and stickers. Next, these plastic shreds will then be placed in a bath where the lighter plastic materials such as the lids will float to the top and be removed. The remaining plastic shreds will then enter another chemical bath to remove the stickers or adhesives.
Step 3. Drying. The two chemical baths would now have made the plastic shreds into a soggy mixture of clear plastic. It is now time to completely dry them out with a slow rotating cooker for about ten hours.
Step 4. Melting into Threads. This dried plastic mixture is then fed into a rotating screw where they are heated up to melting temperatures of 270 degrees Celsius. The rotating screw stretches the mixture into thin strings, which are then collected in a container.
Step 5. Further Stretching. The plastic threads are then placed into a machine that stretches and heats them further into thin binding fibres. These fibres are then torn apart again to create the fluff material that will then be spun into a thread that can now be woven into a polyester-type fabric.
Step 6. The Weaving Process. The plastic threads can now be woven into the fabric that makes up the different types of recycled activewear.
It is estimated that it will take about nine recycled plastic bottles to make one recycled activewear in Australia. Although it will take many resources to create one shirt, it prevents plastic from reaching our oceans. So, to join the movement to reduce plastic pollution, start supporting recycled activewear in Australia.