Plastic recycling – solution or problem?

Plastic recycling - crimped nylon in pink and blue

Swedish concern Volvo is among the automotive and fashion giants to join the global trend for bio-textiles from recycled plastic

The automotive giant Volvo is joining the global trend to reduce harmful emissions and protect nature. From 2030, the Swedish concern will offer only electric cars, and as early as 2025, it will begin to replace natural leather in car compartments with a special eco-material called Nordico.

What makes Nordico unique?

It is already produced from specific materials: recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, corks recycled from the wine industry and secondary products from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland. Specialists assure that this bio-based material will set a new standard in interior design. “Volvo Cars takes an ethical stance on the well-being of wildlife,” the company said in a statement.

Humane treatment of animals is also demonstrated by other car manufacturers: back in 2019, Tesla launched one of its “skin-free” models, Porsche did the same with the Tayсan EV model.

Photo of a car interior - silhouette of a driver in the back, part of the interior design and through the windshield you can see a road and a forest

When harmful plastic becomes useful

The production of fabrics from recycled plastic is a radical change, which various industries are already following, since before 4 years ago a scientific report proved unequivocally: the production of raw materials for the so-called “fast fashion” creates greenhouse emissions of 1.2 billion tons per year, and the pollution of the planet with plastic leads to huge harmful and irreversible processes.

Calculations of the damage that textile production is doing to the planet have been done for a long time. It has been known for decades, for example, that growing cotton from planting to weaving globally takes over 93 billion cubic meters of water per year. Thus, scientists come to the logical conclusion that harmful plastic can bring benefits.

Harmful plastic at the time of recycling

How fashion changes the situation

H&M, Aquafil, Ecoalf, Repreve Unifi… We list for you famous fashion companies that decided to turn the situation around and contribute to solving the plastic pollution crisis by transforming billions of bottles into fabrics and clothes. But there’s more – brands are also committed to raising awareness among their consumers about the benefits of plastic recycling. Affordable fashion made from sustainable materials with a contribution to the green cause is one of the leading trends that is growing with the growth of scientific developments.

female hands opening hangers with many colorful dresses hanging on them

From jeans to swimwear

In 2014, the famous musician Pharrell Williams launched a fashion line of denim clothing G-Star Raw, developed from plastic bottles taken from the oceans and recycled. The cause of a more sustainable and green future through the creation of innovative fabrics is being embraced by a bunch more celebrities, but more importantly, work is being done on more and more “fronts”:

The famous American company Timberland, which emphasizes sportswear, shoes and accessories, assures that 100% of its shoes contain recycled or organic materials. Australian brand Liar The Label makes swimwear from recycled single-use plastic packaging; in Dubai there is a factory to create yarn from recycled plastic, in India plug cords are recycled and the waste is used to make textiles.

Colored letters with different patterns form the word plastic
Photo: Unsplash

Solution or problem

More and more household goods manufacturers are joining the global plastic recycling trend. Some specialists see this as a new problem and fear that there is a threat of contamination with plastic microfibers.

Tiny plastic particles can be released during the washing and spinning of clothes made from plastic-based fabrics, they end up in the ocean again and eventually enter the food chain and endanger human health. This is what some experts claim, but others deny the possibility of large-scale pollution with plastic microparticles. And they emphasize the advantages of recycling, among which is the creation of new jobs.

Clearly, new technologies will at least in the near future explore this path to address the giant plastic problem facing the modern world.

A sandy beach with palm trees and sea waves, in the foreground seaweed and many pieces of plastic entangled in it.
Photo: Unsplash


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