Most (But not all) plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is a common, recyclable plastic used to package drinks, food, household cleaners and cosmetics, among many more you use in your daily life.
If you are ever unsure which type of plastic you are holding, invert it and you will see a triangle shape that has a number inside it. This number can range from one to seven, with the number 1 being PET.
Plastics are used extensively due to the array of functions that other materials can not match. These include cost, strength, thermo-stability, lightweight, resealable and resistance from shattering.
But, precisely because plastic is so durable, almost all of the plastic ever made is still in existence. Every year we are producing more than 300 million tonnes of the stuff!
So, once you have finished with your plastic, where does it all go?
It is a sad fact that an estimated 91% of all plastic is still not recycled. The rest ends up as landfill, burnt in incinerators or worse, escapes into the oceans and forests as trash.
You can help to ensure your bottles have a better chance of being recycled though, by following these simple steps.
That's it, but you would be surprised how few people actually go to this effort.
So what happens after I have deposited the bottles?
Once you have placed your bottle into a recycling bin your municipal recycling management in your area should recover the bottle, and take them a specialised recycling facility.
When the bottle arrives at the plant, there are often labels attached and small amounts of liquid inside. These are removed via rigorous washing stages using disinfectant and air-drying, followed by a smashing stage. This stage is vital to ensure the separation and quality of the actual plastic we want to recycle, from the residual foreign materials. At the end of this stage, the plastic is in the form of little flakes no bigger than 1cm.
Before the PET can be used in a manufacturing process, it is next melted into uniformly-sized polyester pellets. This stage is also used as a cleaning process, any foreign objects at this stage will not melt and will be siphoned off.
The plastic needs to go through a number of washing phases, which is critical to ensure that only pure, high-quality PET remains as we move into the following steps.
This is often the end of the process for the plastic in these factories. From here, the pellets will move to different facilities depending on their use. We will follow the path towards a Wraptie™ strap.
In a new factory, a machine re-heats the pellets and forced through tiny holes that squeeze them out into individual fibers, this is known as extrusion. One pellet will become one tiny fibre. Imagine pushing play-doh through plastic stencils to make spaghetti!
These thin, fragile fibers are then spun together to produce a tough rope-like product know as yarn. To produce a length of yarn, up to 24,000 polyester fibers are required.
From the plastic bottle we had at the start, we can now see we are starting to turn it into a product that can be used in the manufacturing process of a Wraptie™ strap.
This stage is where the individual threads come together to form a physical product.
The thread needs to be weaved to produce a fabric, which is the basis of any fabric. This is commonly done by weaving two or more threads at angles to each other. If you look closely at a cotton shirt, you can see the criss-cross pattern that it has been weaved in.
The WRAPTIE™ ends are constructed in this way using 100% recycled plastic bottles.
Before you can use the material you must finally add some colour which is the final process before cutting to size and assembling into any product, such as a WRAPTIE™ strap.
Through these steps, you can now imagine how your next bottle will be turned into your next Wraptie™ strap.
When we take a waste product, such as a plastic bottle, and turn it into something new, we are eliminating the need for destructive mining of new sources for the plastics such as crude oil.
This process is better known as the circular economy.
At WRAPTIE™ we believe that all companies are responsible for minimising, as much as is possible, their impact on the environment. This is why WRAPTIE™ has committed to using recycled materials in all of its products and eliminating single-use plastic packaging in everything that we make.
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‘Environmental crisis’ was the buzzword on everyone’s tongue until the Coronavirus swamped all other headlines. Whilst the press coverage may not be quite what it was a year ago, now remains as crucial a time as ever in fighting the good fight by continuing to play our own crucial roles in protecting our planet.
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