Classification of plastics: what do the marks mean?

Classification of plastics: what do the marks mean?

Plastic is not just plastic. In order to differentiate between the different types, which is important for collection and recycling, there is a standardized plastics classification. This abbreviation designates the main plastic in the product. For example, PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate and PVC for polyvinyl chloride. There is also a number from 1 to 7 in a triangle of arrows. You will find the plastic classification consisting of code and abbreviation on the underside or the bottom of the packaging.

Plastic marking: What do the code and abbreviation mean

1 PET – polyethylene terephthalate
The contained acetaldehyde and antimony trioxide can be released into the liquid stored in it over time. At higher temperatures and exposure to sunlight, the proportion of substances that can get into the food (“chemical” taste) increases. It is best to protect the bottles from heat and do not fill them with hot liquids.

e.g. beverage bottles, packaging, polyester fibers etc.

2 PE-HD – high density polyethylene
Not considered hazardous to health, but pollutes the environment. Estrogenic chemicals may be present. HD stands for high density.

e.g. washing liquid, detergent or cleaning agent bottles, packaging, kitchen utensils

3 PVC – polyvinyl chloride
Plasticizers (phthalates) first make PVC flexible and supple, but are considered to be reproductively harmful (infertility, cancer) and are therefore a health hazard.

Rigid PVC: window profiles, drainpipes, etc.;
Soft PVC: floor coverings, children’s toys, hoses, artificial leather, swimming rings, seals, etc.

4 PE-LD – Low Density Polyethylene
Polyethylene is not considered a health hazard, but it is considered an environmental pollutant. LD stands for low density.

e.g. foils, plastic tubes, plastic bags and sacks

5 PP – Polypropylene
Not considered to be harmful to health, but polluting the environment.

e.g. cups, food packaging, plastic bags

6 PS – polystyrene
Better known by the trade name Styrofoam. It is basically recyclable, but the technology is not yet widespread enough and is therefore currently considered to be environmentally polluting. If styrofoam or polystyrene foam is heated, styrene can be released, which is considered carcinogenic.

e.g. foams, cups, bowls for food packaging, insulation

7 O – O (Other) stands for “other plastics”
This is where all other types of plastic fall in.

It’s a very heterogeneous group. Plastics belonging to this group are among others:

  • PC – polycarbonate e.g. CDs, DVDs, glass substitute for bottles as well as epoxy resins (internal coating of tins) contain bisphenol A (BPA), which affects the hormonal balance even in the smallest amounts. The substance is associated with disorders in sexual development, hyperactivity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • PMMA – polymethyl methacrylate Plexiglas, acrylic glass – glass replacement, car headlights, optics, watch glasses, jewellery, etc.
  • ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Copolymer e.g. toys, electronics, etc. ABS is also used in 3D printers. 99% recyclable by type.
  • GRP – glass fiber reinforced plastic e.g. fiberglass – car, ship and aircraft construction, pipes, bathtubs, etc.
  • Biodegradable plastics are often marked with 07. Bio-plastics take a relatively long time to decompose. Therefore, bio-plastic is NOT completely degraded in large rapid composting plants and often sorted out. Bio-plastic has NO nutritional value for the microorganisms in the compost!

What is behind the term plastic?

The raw material for most plastics is petroleum. Carbon compounds are produced from this and mixed with various additives. This results in different properties of the end product. Many of our everyday objects are made of plastic or at least have parts made of it. Durability and malleability are a major reason for mass deployment. Polyethylene (PE) is the most commonly used plastic worldwide at around 38%. Unfortunately, plastic products are often thrown away after just one time use, such as plastic bags.

Microplastics in the human body

In a pilot study by the Environment Agency Austria and the Medical University of Vienna, microplastics were found in the human organism for the first time.
The results have been presented at the International UEG Gastroenterology Congress in Vienna. Nine different types of plastic ranging in size from 50 to 500 microns were detected, the most common being PP (polypropylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

How green is green: a critical look at the alliance to end plastic waste

How green is green: a critical look at the alliance to end plastic waste

You don’t have to be a full-time environmentalist to realize that plastic and its impact on the environment is booming. Hardly any other environmental topic is currently attracting such great interest from the general public as plastic waste and its fate on land and in the sea. The EU has already come up with the directive on single-use plastic. It bans many pointless single-use plastic items like plates, cutlery and drinking straws that were commonly found on beaches and in the countryside. In Germany, the Packaging Act has been in force since January 2019, almost doubling the recycling quota for plastic packaging. There are countless examples of companies reporting on where and how they now want to save plastic everywhere. Then everything is working out greatly, you might think, but let’s have a closer look at the problem. How green is green?

The private-sector initiative “Alliance to End Plastic Waste” states the following:

28 global companies, some of which are worth billions, want to tackle the issue of plastic waste. This alliance reaches from the chemical industry (including BASF and Exxon Mobile), through consumer goods (Henkel, Procter & Gamble) and waste management companies (Veolia, Suez).
They will spend a total of around 1.5 billion dollars on this over the next five years.

Which measures are part of the alliance?

  • Selective development of infrastructure for waste disposal (e.g. through building partnership with cities and communities)
  • Financing new technologies, business models and companies to reduce waste in waters, seas and oceans and to improve waste management and recycling
  • Developing solutions for packaging recycling

Basically, it is welcome and sorely needed that companies finally take care of the tens of millions of tons of plastic waste that they are responsible for producing and of which more than ten million tons end up in the oceans every year. But what are 1.5 billion here in the face of these disposal problems created by the companies themselves? Ultimately, they don’t even get to the root of the problem!

$1.5 billion for waste solutions is nothing compared to $89 billion for more plastic

Let’s have a look at the cash flow. 1.5 billion dollars in five years sounds like a lot of money. And so the companies speak of a project “of unprecedented scale” and the “so far most comprehensive measure to eliminate plastic waste in the environment”. It is interesting to see what investments companies are planning elsewhere. The Dutch Recycling Network has found that signatory companies will invest more than $89 billion by 2030 to expand their global plastic production facilities. They will continue to focus on the production of short-lived plastic products and packaging for which there will still be no disposal solutions in many countries in the years to come. You can even talk of a mind change, because avoiding plastic plays no role in the thinking of BASF, Henkel and Co. And so the problem is not tackled at the root. 400 million tons of plastic are already being produced today, 60 million tons in Europe alone. It is hypocritical to rely on short-term support for individual cities in setting up collection structures if, at the same time, a multiple of that money is being used to produce more and more plastics. The suspicion is that the actual goal here is to polish the image of the plastic producers.

Waste disposal must be financed across the board and over the long term

Sustainable financing of infrastructure for waste disposal cannot take place on a voluntary basis. It is not enough to invest once in isolated projects. In Germany, the construction of a modern sorting plant for packaging waste alone costs a figure in the double-digit millions. Of course, it would be a good thing if 30 new sorting plants were built in emerging countries in for example Asia. The problem is that the 1.5 billion dollars would not even be sufficient for that and we didn’t even start to consider the operational management and the development of collection logistics you also need money for. Or what about the plants that then process the material further? The only conclusion here can be that just investing in new sorting plants doesn’t bring bring much. According to Statista, there are currently already over 400 sorting systems in operation in Germany that sort plastic packaging.

What we need is binding product responsibility on a global scale, decreed by states and thus enforceable. A functioning waste disposal system can only be financed if those responsible for the product are continuously obliged to pay. However, this would of course be many times more expensive than the current commitments made by the plastics industry to the alliance. In Germany, with its approximately 82 million inhabitants, the distributors paid 941 million euros in 2011 according to the Federal Cartel Office for the disposal of packaging made of plastic, metal or paper. The amount should now be over one billion euros per year.

300 million dollars from Allianz annually will probably have little lasting effect, considering that with 1.9 billion people there are about 23 times more people in the five countries from which most plastic enters the world’s oceans (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka) than in Germany.

Everyone talks about recycling, nobody about avoiding waste

Because the chemical and plastics industries now have a pretty bad image with the increasing reporting on plastic in nature and the environment, they are trying very hard to present themselves as credible and active problem solvers. When the alliance was presented, there was also talking of “partnerships” with cities and municipalities and workshops for governments and administrations, in which information is given about the most effective disposal solutions. Here, too, it is well suppressed that governments, cities and municipalities are not equal partners, but first and foremost institutions that set and enforce regulatory law and set clear rules for improving the environmental situation for all citizens and sanction companies for environmental pollution accordingly. The question is: should the companies that created the plastic problem in the first place really lead the debate on how to solve the problem in the Global South?

Strategies to avoid plastic are consistently avoided by Allianz itself. The most important questions we should actually ask ourselves are:

  • How can concepts of extended producer responsibility also be implemented in structurally weak countries and thus contribute to waste avoidance?
  • How do we make our societies less plastic without switching to other resource-intensive materials? What are strategies for making packaging reusable or refillable?
  • How can such strategies be implemented in structurally weak countries?

The avoidance approach seems too radical for the industry, it would ultimately threaten its core business. In the medium term, however, there is no way around these avoidance strategies and companies will be particularly successful if they integrate all environmental aspects into their business model.

Our conclusion: It is important and right that companies take on the global environmental impact of plastics much more than before and use their expertise to become more environmentally friendly. But then this must be implemented consistently and lead to a general rethinking of sensible plastic applications, instead of investing more and more money in more and more plastic at the beginning of the value chain and then implementing time- and regionally limited disposal measures at the end.

The best ideas to recycle plastic bottles

The best ideas to recycle plastic bottles

Plastic is one of the most used materials for containers and packaging, but it is also the one that, if disposed of incorrectly, contributes the most to contaminating the planet. It’s not naturally degradable and plastic islands in the seas and oceans continue to increase. In this article we show you how to bring new creations to life with the best ideas for recycling plastic bottles by making the following great stuff:

  • vertical and horizontal garden
  • flower pots
  • butterflies
  • plastic cups
  • self-watering pots
  • galactic masks
  • piggy bank of animals
  • curtains
  • eyeglass cases
  • hourglass
  • stool

We all have, to a greater or lesser extent, plastic bottles at home. Big or small, and all of them lend themselves to different creative jobs with which to decorate the house or much better, to find a second use for the bottle that one day served us to drink water for example.

Bird feeders

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into bird feeders

A good and simple option is to use plastic bottles, especially the small ones, to feed the birds that live near us. It’s very simple, we just have to add some holes into which we insert spoons and some kinds of straws so that the food moves.

Another option is with a large bottle, where you cut out half of the top part so the bird can get inside the bottle to eat the food. In the photo that we show you below you can see very well what you should do.

Puff

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a puff

A puff with plastic bottles? And very cool. Of course, you will need a few plastic bottles. Around 40 bottles that you will have to put together in the shape of a circle with packing tape. Once you have the shape of the pouffe, you must surround it by placing two circular cardboard tops and bottoms of the bottles.

The next step is to surround the element with foam and glue it on with white glue. In this case, you must leave 3 hours for it to dry well and be sealed. The last step will be to upholster the puff with the fabric that we have chosen. As simple as patterning and sewing it, much easier than it seems. When you have it, look for puff prices and be amazed with the money you will have saved.

Vertical and horizontal garden

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a horizontal garden

Another of the ideas to recycle plastic bottles that will require dozens of them. Now, the result cannot be more spectacular. To create this vertical and horizontal garden, you will need as many bottles as you want and some wire to hold them together.

Just make a hole in each bottle, turning them into pots, plus two holes through which to pass the wire.

Plant what you deem appropriate and, in a few weeks, you will have a beautiful garden along the length and width of the wall you have chosen.

Basket

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into baskets

For clothespins, for kitchen utensils, for children’s toys… The basket is one of the ideas for recycling plastic bottles with the most uses available. And one of the easiest to do.

Just take a large plastic jug and cut off the top. Burn the edges to avoid peaks and glue, with white glue, a fabric edging of the color you want on the edge. To finish, make two holes facing each other and place two ropes as shown in the image, so you will have handles to carry it easily. Useful, simple, fast and very economical.

Pots

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into pots

Making plant pots is very simple using plastic bottles. We recommend that you make a small sketch with the shape we want (a cat, an owl, a dog, etc.), normally, animals that have some type of characteristic such as big ears, so it will be much more graceful.

Once we have cut the bottle with the shape we want, we paint it the desired color, we draw the details with an indelible marker and all we have to do is fill it with earth and plant our beautiful plants. If we also put some ropes or chains on it, we will have created a hanging planter.

ceiling light

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into ceiling lights

Incredible ceiling lamps made of plastic, ideal to put on an island in a kitchen. Just water drums, cut and painted, if we add a nice fabric, the effect is elegant, cheap and very practical. We can also personalize them with fun colors, written messages or even hanging them at different heights.

Umbrella stand

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into an umbrella stand

When we get home and don’t know where to put the umbrella, we can make this original umbrella stand ourselves using plastic bottles that we don’t use.

For this specific example, the bottles that would best fit an umbrella are small bleach bottles, since soda bottles are usually very wide. Attaching them to a piece of wood and it is attached to the wall and the result is a practical and original umbrella stand.

Butterflies

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into butterflies

Using a template with the shape and design of the butterfly, we can obtain these beautiful butterflies that we will decorate to our liking.

We simply remove the plastics by cutting them out of a soda bottle, once cut and painted, we can join them with fishing line to make a butterfly curtain or we can put a safety pin at the bottom and turn it into a brooch. Another way would be to stick a magnet on it and we will have a nice butterfly for the fridge.

Toys for our dog

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into toys for dogs

Our pets like to spend as much time as possible playing, but we don’t have the same energy as them. A great way to keep them entertained and develop their intelligence is this wonderful game that we can make ourselves with very few materials.

The trick is to drill holes in the bottles so that a stick can be inserted to serve as an axis with the idea that the bottles can rotate if the dog kicks them.

The interesting thing is to fill each bottle with different amounts of food, the bottle that has the most food will be the one that costs the most to move, but it will be the first one you want to eat, since since they are not covered when they rotate, they discharge different amounts of food. A very ingenious technique to keep your pet entertained if she suffers from separation anxiety, since you will have her entertained for a long time.

plastic cups

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into plastic cups

Original glasses created from plastic bottles, well, and a CD. In this case we can take advantage of both the neck of the bottle and its lower part.

Using a CD, as the base of the glass and painting it in elegant or fun ways and we will have some original glasses or containers to drink, as a jewelry box for rings or as in the image for plants.

Vertical garden

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a vertical garden

A vertical garden at home, what a great idea! We can grow small vegetables or even aromatic herbs such as thyme, rosemary, mint, etc. The idea is very interesting, simply placing plastic bottles upside down, making holes in the base, so that they can fit into each other, and a hole in the cap, so that the excess water waters the next bottle. To finish we place one last bottle face up in order to collect all the excess water that we can use again. There is no excuse for not having a garden at home.

Curious and practical jewelry box

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into practical jewelry boxes

A funny and original jewelry box, it is a little more elaborate, but if we have time, it is an original and striking way to recycle plastic bottles that we no longer use. We can paint the bottles the color we want or even draw motifs or flowers with indelible markers.

Flowers to decorate your gifts

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into flowers to decorate your gifts

We can make these beautiful flowers to decorate a gift box, it is a very original and simple idea to do that will not take too much time and will be a knockout to surprise the honorees. The final result is spectacular, simply with pieces of plastic molded in the heat of a candle.

Self-watering pots

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into self-watering pots

The vacation season arrives and we have everything ready to go, but what to do with the plants. We present you a great idea to do with plastic bottles. One bottle acts as a water container and the other, using cotton strips, allows moisture to rise to the ground. An original and beautiful way to keep the soil of our plants hydrated, especially when it is very hot.

Food dispenser

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into food dispensers

There are times when we have the simplest solutions at home, objects such as plastic bottles that are going to go to the container and yet we are wasting a very versatile and interesting raw material. This wonderful bottle for so many children serves as an example, if our dog has had puppies and is not feeling well enough to feed them, this can be a very interesting solution.

Or what to say about this wonderful nest made with a bottle of soda and perfectly blended into the environment. A very original idea that the birds will know how to thank you with their morning songs. The effect of the paint used imitating bark is achieved if the paint is applied with a sponge.

Earrings with pearls

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into earrings with pearls

Any jewelry store would pay a huge amount of money to get these wonderful earrings. The truth is that it is a very original idea to give away. The modeling of the plastic can be done with a lighter as in this example or by passing the plastic over a candle. A simple and very original idea to combine this summer.

Galactic mask

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a galactic mask

Just a bit of skill is what it takes to create this original and highly accomplished Star Wars Stormtroopers mask, decoration is 90% of this mask, but we cannot deny that it is a very ingenious idea. and worthy of taking to any carnival.

Toys

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into toys

We are preparing a costume party and we do not know how to finish the costume that we have made for the little one, it goes without saying, the costume will be of a superhero. In this case, we do need to manufacture state-of-the-art engines. Nothing better than two bottles of soda, perfectly painted in metallic gray and some eerie red felt flares and we already have our thrusters.

Snakes

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into snakes

A terrible “Pejilagarto”, a fierce animal from the depths of rivers whose skeleton is made of plastic and its eyes are made of terrible bottle caps.

Broom

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a broom

The most original and striking broom you can find, a recycled broom in full color. Now plastic bottles not only litter and populate landfills, they also serve to leave your house like gold jets! Just cut a bottle in half and make some fringes in the part where you have cut. The fringes will serve to clean in the same way as the cells of the broom, and the opening of the bottle will serve to hook the stick.

Animal piggy bank

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a piggy bank

You can make this second piggy bank with the top of several bottles. The caps are used to store the coins and everything is joined by screws. Thanks to reusing plastic bottles, no one will have access to your money anymore. Well, it is not that they are the most resistant and safe in the world, but to teach children the value of money and recycling, it works perfectly. As you can see in the first image, the limit to the design of the piggy bank is only set by you and your imagination, you can come up with any design.

Candle holders

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into candle holders

Have you ever considered getting such varied candle holders with a simple plastic bottle? Look how cool they are for a romantic evening. You will find few better ways to take advantage of and recycle those plastic objects that you no longer use and that would end up polluting the atmosphere in any landfill.

Coin purse

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a purse for your coins

Very easy to do. It is made with two bottle bases. In the middle we place a zipper that we glue on the inside. The result is similar to those old granny purses. Ideal to put those loose change that we have scattered in the pockets of the pants or in the bag.

Curtains

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into curtains

The curtains do not always have to be made of fabric, you can make a flower-themed curtain with the bottoms of plastic bottles. Similar to this, you can also make one of those curtains that are used as a “door” in some hot areas. Or is that already too tacky? In any case, it is another interesting use to recycle plastic and contribute to sustainable development.

Pencil holders

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into pencil holders

Original and pretty, all you need is a plastic bottle, a rubber band that covers the top so it doesn’t scratch, and some pencils to keep. This is one of the simplest and most functional crafts that can be made with plastic bottles, ideal for teaching children, for example. Also, you can always decorate the boats however you want, adding decorative elements or painting them in the colors that you like best.

Bags dispenser

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into dispenser bags

An easy way to have everything you need in your bathroom, betting on recycling. It is undoubtedly an original device that you can also use in other areas of the house, for example in the kitchen or pantry, to store shopping bags. As you can see, plastic has many more uses than those for which it was created, and you can recycle the plastic from one utensil to make a totally different one.

Eyeglass cases

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a case for your glasses

Have you ever considered that there could be a glasses holder made from a recycled bottle? Easier and original impossible. The way to do it is similar to the purse that we have shown you previously, although in this case it must have a more elongated shape so that the glasses fit inside.

Bag closure

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a closure system for bags

Caps can become the ideal way to close your bags hermetically. Or, if you prefer, you can use the same plastic bottles to store what you were going to store in those bags.

Boxes

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into boxes

In the following photographs you can see some examples of how to make boxes with plastic bottles and the different uses to which you can put them. Undoubtedly, there are people who brim with imagination (and environmental awareness).
Ideas to recycle plastic bottles curved box

Hourglass

Ideas for recycling plastic bottles into an hourglass

This is for dreamers, for those who want to seize time, every minute. Be careful, don’t get stuck watching the sand fall over and over again. In this case, it is a decorative element, but it can be very interesting to give your living room or your room a little more “zen” touch.

Bracelet

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into bracelets

Yes of course! Even those who like to take care of their personal image can make their own bracelets with recycled materials. As you can see in the image above, they look quite nice and you can coat or paint them with whatever designs you want and even add other decorations to them.

Bird feeder

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a bird feeder

For pet lovers, you already have another way to make a simple homemade feeder. With this “invention”, the birds will not eat from your hand, but they will eat and drink from your feeder. In addition, since it is made of plastic, you can place it both inside and outside the house or in a cage, since nothing will happen to it when it gets wet from the rain.

Stool

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into a stool

For this craft you are going to need more plastic bottles, but notice how easy it is to make a stool with them and how comfortable it seems. In this case, you will use the bottles as legs, to give the structure solidity. Place a flat surface on the seat and voila, you have it.

Decorative flowers

Ideas to recycle plastic bottles into flowers

Impressive flowers that you can make in all the colors and patterns you want, ideal to do with children. You never imagined that with a simple plastic bottle you could make such beautiful things in such a simple way. This is one of the most recommended crafts for children to do with plastic. And if, instead of flowers, you want to do something else, for example butterflies, moons or whatever, you can too.

Garden tools

Ideas for recycling plastic bottles into garden tools

Finally, you can also use the plastic bottles to build shovels, dustpans or garden tools. The ones up here are made, as you can see, based on the part of the handle of a plastic bottle. In this case you don’t have to do practically anything, it’s such a simple craft that you just have to look at the image above on how you have to cut the carafe to get your dustpan-shovel.

What do you think of the ideas we have given you? Some are very simple, others, on the other hand, require a little more work, although the truth is that all this implies that we are recycling, something essential for ecological well-being.

Soil Pollution: Causes, consequences and how to solve it

Soil Pollution: Causes, consequences and how to solve it

There are many types of contamination of the soil that can have severely affect the environment. Let’s find out more about soil contamination below: what is it, what causes it, what are the consequences, why does it occur and how can we solve it?

What is soil pollution

Soil is the layer of organic and inorganic material that covers the rocky ground surface. The organic portion, derived from the decomposition of animals and plants, is concentrated in the upper part of the soil. The inorganic part is composed of rock fragments. Other components of the soil are water and air, which vary according to rainfall. Soil contamination, also called soil pollution, is caused by the introduction of chemicals or changes in the environmental soil by human activities. These chemicals lead to soil contamination and, directly or indirectly, to water and air pollution. Among these chemicals, the most common types are petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and arsenic), pesticides, and solvents.

Explained in other words, we can say that the soil is the unconsolidated loose material that is produced by the physical disintegration of the rocks, or the product of meteorological alterations in the environment.

The soil evolves until it can form a complex system, becoming a stratified structure and a specific composition, specifically under the influence of living beings.

But just like the atmosphere (air pollution), the soil can also be affected by pollution, something that – as you can imagine – is correctly called soil pollution.

Causes and consequences

The main causes of soil contamination are the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, the incorrect disposal of solid waste and deforestation. These factors mean that the main consequences of soil contamination are reduced soil fertility, increased risk of erosion and loss of nutrients.

Below we explain more about the causes and consequences of soil contamination.

Use of fertilizers

Using them to correct soil deficiencies indiscriminately ends up contaminating the soil with impurities and/or nutrient overloading for plants, thus unbalancing the natural composition of the soil. Some heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, are also found in fertilizers, increasing the toxicity of the soil and posing a great danger to plantations. These contaminants are subsequently removed with rainwater or infiltrate into the ground, ending up in groundwater tables and springs, thus contaminating watercourses.

Use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides

Pesticides are used to reduce the number of pests that act on plantations and damage agricultural activity, despite the fact that they cause irreversible damage to the environment. These substances are absorbed by the soil, ending up contaminating the plantations that grow there. The subsequent consumption of these contaminated vegetables can cause serious damage to human and animal health. Another problem is the reduction of the fertility of the contaminated soil.

Improper disposal of solid and plastic waste

In general, domestic, industrial and rural wastes have in their composition a variety of chemical products like plastics that are harmful to the environment. This waste degrades and results in the production of leachate, which is a highly toxic liquid resulting from the decomposition of organic waste. Garbage deposits, made in an unsanitary manner, end up filtering this leachate, which crosses the soil, contaminates it and reaches the groundwater. The number of open air dumps around the world is worrying, since much of the rubbish is not properly disposed of. There may also be soil contamination from dumping radioactive material or hospital waste.

Deforestation

Natural soil erosion occurs when soil particles are carried by wind or water. Vegetation cover is removed during deforestation, removing protection from winds and eliminating water uptake by tree and plant roots. This excess water can cause soil instability and erosion.

Other causes of soil contamination are:

  • Contaminated water released by industries
  • Oil spill
  • Acid rain
  • Sewer discharged into rivers and land
  • Incorrect soil drilling
  • Cemeteries
  • Infiltration of septic tanks
  • Fires
  • Mining

Consequences of soil contamination

There are various damages caused by soil contamination. Among the main ones are:

  • Reduced soil fertility
  • Increased erodibility
  • loss of nutrients
  • ecological imbalance
  • Increased salinity
  • Reduction of vegetation
  • Public health problems
  • Release of polluting gases
  • Blockage of plumbing
  • Food contamination
  • desertification

Types of soil pollution

There are two types of contamination that can affect the structure and formation of the soil: natural contamination (which is frequently endogenous) and anthropogenic contamination (totally exogenous).

As we well know, and as we commented at the beginning, different natural phenomena can be important causes of soil contamination, as well.

To give just one example, an active volcano may be capable of contributing greater amounts of external substances and pollutants than several coal-fired power plants combined.

Soil contamination by human activities

Soil contamination can have a wide variety of causes. Some of the most frequent reasons are:

  • The use of pesticides in agriculture
  • Bursting underground storage tanks
  • Leaks from landfill or landfill areas leaking chemicals and plastics into the soil
  • Direct accumulation of waste from industrial products

The most common chemicals that are responsible for soil contamination are: petroleum derivatives (like plastics), pesticides, solvents, and other heavy metals. This phenomenon is a consequence of the high degree of industrialization, the increasing use of chemicals and the lack of management and control by both companies and the governments of the different countries.

When soil contamination reaches a critical level, the natural balance of these complex systems is affected, which translates into a change in soil behavior. What happens is that the harmful substances that accumulate become toxic to the organisms that live there. This chemical degradation can cause the partial or even total loss of soil productivity.

There are many negative consequences of soil contamination. Among them we can mention serious risks to human health, either directly or indirectly – caused by soil contaminants coming into contact with drinking water sources.

In order to carry out a good study of soil contamination, the maximum admissible levels of contaminants must be defined, and factors that may influence the response of the soil to these agents must be analyzed. Therefore, it is not enough to simply detect the presence of contaminated soil.

Once the contaminated areas have been defined, the area can be cleaned. But this does not constitute a true solution, since -of course- the effects of the contamination may have affected both the animals and plants of the place, as well as the health of the inhabitants and the productive quality of the soil. In addition, cleanup tasks take a lot of time and money, and usually cannot be afforded by the affected communities.

Negative effects of soil pollution

Soil contamination affects flora, plants and trees. Soil contamination causes a decrease in the variety of species, hinders their survival and, therefore, greatly affects the plant ecosystem of the contaminated area.

The same is true of wildlife. In nature, everything is closely related and, in the same way that soil contamination affects plants, it also affects animals. Herbivorous animal species may not have plants to feed on. Furthermore, contaminated soil greatly increases the risk for animals of falling victim to poisoning.

Soil contamination, like water pollution, causes a great impact on the landscape. Who likes to see an extension of natural land full of garbage, plastic bottles and bags and other polluting substances?

Soil contamination also causes a decrease in the quality of the surrounding soil, which makes it less useful for agricultural activities. Contaminated soil not only makes agricultural activities on that same land impossible, but also diminishes the quality of adjacent lands.

In the same way that soil contamination is detrimental to agriculture, it is also harmful to livestock, since the animals will not have quality pastures to feed on but eat microplastics instead. Soil pollution does not only affect the land we walk on. All these substances that contaminate the soil also contaminate the air, emitting polluting gases that affect the health of animals, plants and people, negatively affecting the ozone layer and accelerating the greenhouse effect.

On the other hand, this soil contamination not only contaminates the air, but is also likely to negatively affect nearby waters, both surface water and groundwater.

It should be noted that many of these consequences occur slowly, silently, but also inexorably. Soil contamination always leads to land that is unusable both for human activities and for hosting a healthy and varied ecosystem.

How to fight and prevent soil pollution

Some steps can be taken to control and reduce soil contamination. Reduce or eliminate the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides (using biopesticides, for example), eliminate the use of disposable plastics, reforestation, control of the release of toxic waste from industries and, mainly, waste and plastic recycling, together with the correct disposal of waste and its treatment. However, these measures are not easily carried out and require considerable time to implement, in addition to investment in infrastructure.

In fact, and as in any case related to the contamination of the planet, man is up to his neck in it. In the same way that it is the human being that contaminates, it is also in our power to prevent and fight contamination of the soil, but also of water and air.

Regulatory laws

To all of the above, we can also add the approval of stricter laws and regulations regarding the emission of discharges by companies. The companies that produce energy and all kinds of products are the main culprits for soil contamination, especially due to the large number of discharges that end up in landfills. But if there are no laws promulgated by the government that harshly penalize this type of practice, they will continue to have a free hand.

In addition, it is necessary to invest in fighting pollution, invest in studies and professionals who know how to detect where the problem is and what the methods are to solve it. And, of course, invest in mechanisms and infrastructures that allow these solutions to be carried out. The problem is that, in many cases, the problem has been left to pass for so long that there are sources of soil contamination that nobody wants to deal with anymore, since cleaning up the area would require huge investments.

Ecological consciousness

Another of the key factors when it comes to preventing soil contamination is the awareness of human beings in their duty to respect the planet. We are constantly contaminating the soil with every little gesture. When we don’t recycle, when we throw things on the ground, they are small gestures that, multiplied by those same gestures in as many millions of people, give rise to an increasingly polluted planet. This also has a bit to do with people’s ignorance. Did you know that a plastic bag takes more than 100 years to disappear?

Often, helping to fight soil contamination is in your own hand. Help, collaborate, be part of cleaning or decontamination groups in affected areas. Do something that is in your power, contribute your grain of sand. Every gesture counts and the planet appreciates it.

Sustainable resources

The progress, the development of industrial activities and the exponential development of these, mining extractions, oil plants, nuclear energy, etc. Many of them are activities that are based on resources that, when discarded or stored, cause air and atmosphere pollution. Therefore, another of the solutions to soil contamination would be to finally take a step forward and look for other forms of production that are more sustainable and appropriate to the needs of the planet.

Clean and renewable energies are there, and they do not pollute, nor do biodegradable objects that could replace, for example, plastic bags.

Eco-friendly coffee capsules – How harmless are they really?

Eco-friendly coffee capsules – How harmless are they really?

Lungo, Ristretto, Crema, Americano or simply Classic: All of these are available with a coffee capsule machine at the touch of a button. Manufacturers have been happy about rising sales figures for years – but the mountains of waste that are produced by the disposable capsules are also growing with them. An unbelievable 8 million capsules are used in the UK every day. For us humans, capsule machines may be a convenience – for the environment they are a small catastrophe.

A capsule contains almost as much packaging as coffee content, resulting in a gigantic mountain of waste, most of which is incinerated. Without a coffee capsule, the coffee grounds go into the organic waste and serve nature again as a nutrient supplier. Coffee capsules make this cycle impossible, unless you separate coffee grounds and capsules – but who does that… Even if some manufacturers point out that the capsules can be recycled, that’s just theory. Because different standards both in the waste collection and in the sorting plants as well as the relatively high weight of the capsules due to the coffee grounds they contain make the automated sorting of the capsules difficult. It can therefore be assumed that most of the capsules are not sorted correctly and are therefore not recycled, but ultimately end up in waste incineration. Added to this is the enormous amount of energy required to produce the coffee capsules, especially those made of aluminium. Overall, the ecological balance of the coffee capsules is extremely bad.

Biodegradable or compostable capsules are no better

In view of these negative ecological consequences and the increasingly bad image of coffee capsules, various companies are now offering plastic capsules that are advertised as “compostable” or “biodegradable”. The approach here: Consumers throw the capsules into the organic bin together with the kitchen and garden waste, the contents of which are then used in composting plants or fermentation plants and finally recycled as fertilizer or compost soil. Sounds good in theory, but causes new problems in reality!

The biodegradable capsules are legally considered compostable and may also be labeled as such if they have been certified via the – outdated – standard EN 13432. However, practice shows that the capsules cause considerable problems in the composting plants. While leftover food and garden waste are broken down after about two weeks in large-scale composting, the capsules are found in the compost soil in almost unchanged condition. The result: they have to be sorted out manually. The problem is that while the capsules may be biodegradable in theory, most composting facilities in the UK work much faster. The situation is similar in fermentation plants. Here, too, the capsules are sorted out in the fine processing of the fermentation residues. In addition, the biodegradable materials – the material from which the capsules are made – do not add any value to the compost or the digestate. On the contrary: compost producers explicitly reject biodegradable materials additives because their customers do not accept these foreign substances in the fertilizer products. Speaking of which: “biodegradable” plastic has no place on the compost heap in the garden either.

Reusable capsules as a way out of the waste dilemma

If you want to continue using your capsule machine, you should definitely use environmentally friendly reusable capsules that you simply fill with the coffee powder of your choice. This is also easy on the wallet, as coffee in capsules is much more expensive than in bulk. One should not rely on environmental slogans for single-use capsules such as recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. And don’t forget when buying coffee: Make sure it’s organic and fair. Information on organic and fair trade certifications can be found here.

Waste avoidance comes first

The coffee capsules are representative of a growing range of products that are advertised with the slogans “biodegradable” and “compostable” as an ecological alternative to conventional, i.e. fossil-based plastic products. Organic waste bags or bio-based disposable tableware are other examples. Here it is important to critically analyze whether these new products are really more environmentally friendly. In this context, the European standard for compostability must also be adapted to current plant technology.

For us consumers, the following applies: As welcome as the search for new, innovative materials and products may be in view of finite fossil resources and the ever-increasing problems with plastic waste, we must not rely on them as a solution for everything. Instead, we should primarily ensure that we avoid packaging waste and use reusable solutions.

What happens to my yoghurt pot? – Behind the scenes of a sorting plant

What happens to my yoghurt pot? – Behind the scenes of a sorting plant

The basics of separating waste says: A yoghurt pot belongs in the yellow sack, the yellow bin or the recycling bin. But a visit to a sorting plant for packaging waste shows just how important proper waste separation really is.

Waste separation – and then?

After the packaging waste and any other items made of plastic and metal are collected at home, it goes to a sorting plant for plastics. On average, around 150,000 tons of waste from the yellow sack and the recycling bin pass through the sorting line in the sorting plant. In a three-shift operation, the material does not lie for longer than 24 hours.

Manual sorting is largely a thing of the past; most things are now fully automated. The bags containing recyclable materials are first torn open in a funnel-shaped bag opener, and the material falls loosely onto a conveyor belt. The belt then moves to the perforation drums, large plastic packaging, beverage cartons and cups are separated from the rest and brought directly to the material recognition machine using a scanner. Foils are also separated by means of an air flow, because otherwise they prevent other materials from being recognized.

How the cup ends up in the right faction

Boxes with near-infrared scanners above the conveyor belts ensure that the different types of plastics are correctly assigned to the fractions. Sometimes it still happens that a yoghurt pot with an aluminum lid is swept away and thus incorrectly separated. An overhead magnet skillfully pulls tinplate and aluminum parts off the conveyor belt. It is therefore important that the consumer separates the aluminum lid from the rest of the cup beforehand. The same applies to a cup with a paper cover – it is best to remove the cover and put it in the paper bin, the rest of the yoghurt cup in the yellow sack. Otherwise it can happen that the entire cup is incorrectly recognized as paper by the sorting scanners and ends up in the paper fraction.

Black plastics are not yet so common in yoghurt pots. They are sometimes used in hygiene products for men and are particularly difficult to sort. Since they usually cannot be detected by the near-infrared scanner, they either have to be sorted by gap detection or finally sorted manually by the staff. The error rate is therefore particularly high with these black plastics.

Air barriers are used to classify the various types of plastic scanned into the correct fraction step by step. The result is five (some sorting systems even manage up to eight) separate plastic fractions: for example polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and mixed plastics. The single-variety plastics are pressed into bales and passed on to the recyclers. A bale weighs on average about 150 kilograms and must meet the requirement of purity of 95 to 96 percent for the recycler to accept it.

The journey ends after 15 minutes

A yoghurt pot runs through the entire system within 15 minutes and ideally ends up in the right fraction. All of this can only happen, however, if the plastics are collected as separately as possible from other waste – which is why waste separation has top priority. Waste separation is an important part of recycling, and humans can (still) separate better than any machine. That’s why it’s so important to only put rubbish in the yellow sack, yellow bin or recycling bin that really belongs there.

Technological research is also focused on developing better separation machines, for example sorting systems with fluorescent substances (tracer base sorting) are being developed. Of course, the manufacturers come first: If they use single-variety plastics right from the start and use single materials instead of plastic packaging made of several materials, there is almost nothing standing in the way of good sorting, even by machine.

Higher recovery and recycling rates for packaging waste were introduced in 2019, so that owners of sorting systems also have to make a better effort to achieve the goals and, for example, upgrade to the separation of foils that were not previously sorted out. This shows the fact that regulatory law must first take effect in order to push companies to apply what is already technically possible. BOMAC Industries offers state-of-the art sorting and recycling installations for various kinds of waste.

Collect organic waste and protect the environment

Collect organic waste and protect the environment

Many people find collecting vegetable waste and leftovers rather disgusting – especially in midsummer, when the organic waste in the kitchen can also attract small flies. But because we know what valuable things can be made from vegetable waste, coffee grounds, banana or orange peel, it’s routine for us.

Compost is organic material that helps plants grow when added to the soil. Food scraps and yard waste make up about 30 percent of our waste and could be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, which is a very strong greenhouse gas. By the way, an organic waste bin and your own garden compost do not contradict each other: A lot of things that are not allowed on your own compost can go into the organic waste bin, for example bone or meat leftovers. In addition, we usually produce more organic waste than we can use for our own garden anyway.

Organic waste is very rich in energy and nutrients. Properly disposed of in the organic waste bin, it either ends up in a “fermentation plant”, where climate-neutral biogas is obtained from it, or in a “composting plant“. Valuable fertilizer for agriculture and peat-free soil for the garden are produced here from organic waste. If we separate our waste properly, we support the energy transition and more sustainable agriculture!

How to collect organic waste in the most environmentally friendly way

The most environmentally friendly way to separate your organic waste is to take it straight from the kitchen bowl to the organic waste bin. You can put a little paper in the bowl to absorb the moisture. This can be thrown into the compost bin. However, please do not use brightly printed paper so that no residues of the printing inks end up in the compost. Numerous manufacturers offer organic collection containers for the kitchen, some with special filter lids to reduce unpleasant odors. Another option are special paper bags. These are specially coated so that they remain tear-resistant when the organic waste is wet. When buying, you should make sure that the bags are made of recycled paper with the Blue Angel.

Incidentally, most waste disposal companies advise against special bags made of biodegradable plastic. The plastic does not decompose quickly enough in their composting plants and thus ends up in the environment as plastic scraps or microplastics. Furthermore, the degradable plastic bags in the plants can only be distinguished from the conventional plastic bags with difficulty, so that they are often sorted out before composting to be on the safe side – often including the valuable content!

Join the “organic waste bin promise”!

The Federal Ministry for the Environment and other partners called last year for the big “organic waste bin promise”. You can make a promise to throw all your organic waste in the organic waste bin. To ensure that less plastic ends up in the organic waste bin we support eco-friendly initiatives that encourage people to eat more biologically produced foods, buy foods in eco-friendly and naturally degradable packaging and to separate and recycle all plastic waste from our households. We are constantly active to find new technologies for plastic recycling and production process that limit waste, especially non-recyclable waste.

How is plastic recycled and why do we recycle at all

How is plastic recycled and why do we recycle at all

In everyone’s mind is the image of the suffering of a bird with a plastic bag inside its throat. Or the images of the garbage island, in the North Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii, where, according to a study in the journal Nature, the waste covers 1.6 million km2 (almost three times the size of France) and contains almost 80,000 tons of plastic. Every minute about a million plastic bottles are bought on our earth, and every year about 500,000 million bags are used. Annually, eight million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans.

Since 1950, more than 8 billion tons of plastic of all kinds have been produced in the world and a lot of that has ended up in the environment. How can we stop these figures of rising entirely out of proportions? Plastic recycling is essential. This awareness of the necessity of recycling has to be fixed in into the minds of governments, companies and society in general.

Plastic, present in numerous products, is made up of polymers of resins and substances that come from petroleum that are molded using pressure and heat. Although they can be natural if they come from vegetable raw materials, the most widespread are the synthetic ones. Made from compounds derived from petroleum, natural gas or coal, these plastics come in a big variety of types with different characteristics. Nevertheless, there are four groups that could be identified as the main plastics:

Polyethylene (PE) – Present in plastic bags, plastic sheets and films, containers, microspheres of cosmetics and abrasive products.
Polyester (PET) – They include bottles, containers or clothing.
Polypropylene (PP) – This is mainly part of household appliances or vehicle parts.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – Present in pipes, valves or windows.

Plastic recycling process

As with materials such as glass or paper and cardboard, several phases are followed to recycle plastic.

  • Plastic waste is separated and disposed of in the corresponding container. This is, without a doubt, the first step to be able to continue the fight against plastic waste and to promote recycling. For this, the work of citizens and companies is essential. But what can be thrown into the recycling container? Plastic containers (such as bottles), metal containers (such as cans) and tetrabriks (such as milk or juice packages). It is also possible to deposit the cork trays.
  • Collection and transfer to the sorting plant. All the plastic waste collected in this container is transferred to a plant, where the materials are selected and classified by type and colors.
  • Shredding and washing. Once the materials are sorted out, the waste is crushed and washed to remove impurities. Once this step has been carried out, they are dried and centrifuged in order to eliminate any remaining contaminations and are homogenized with a mechanical process to achieve a uniform color and texture.
  • Regeneration of a new bottle or product. After renewed purification of the material, the plastic is ready to give it a new shape and color according to the intended product, and as a final step passing through the relevant quality controls.

There are multiple uses that can be given to recycled plastic and the products that can be created from it. It is possible to see this material in the form of new packaging, slippers, clothing (read our recent article on how PET bottles can be turned into new clothing), accessories and there are even those who have used it to create a boat and those who give it a second life in the form of a musical instrument.

Objective: reduce plastic to help the environment

In addition to recycling plastic, it is necessary to implement measures that contribute to reducing the consumption of plastics, as well as developing new solutions that replace this material.

The first step in the human attempt to reduce the plastic footprint is to produce biodegradable polymers through the use of additives. However, this does not solve the problem of its petrochemical origin by having to use a non-renewable energy source. Work is also being done on the manufacturing of bioplastics based on materials such as starch or cellulose.

Biotechnology could also play an important role in this scenario, since it could be used to create microorganisms capable of degrading tons of waste that would continue to be generated despite recycling or the creation of new, more sustainable plastics.

Eliminate single-use plastics

Some governments are working to promote measures to reduce plastic, such as the Peruvian government, which launched the ‘Promises for Plastic’ campaign within the framework of COP25, linked to several commitments:

  • That no human being ingests microplastics through the consumption of fish and other marine animals.
  • Avoid the death of animals by ingesting plastic waste.
  • Stop the discharge of plastics into the ocean.
  • Implement laws for industries to reduce the production of single-use plastic.

In Argentina, a resolution was approved that banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in hypermarkets, supermarkets and minimarkets for food and beverages.

In Mexico, one city is leading the fight against single-use plastics: Mexico City. The congress of the Mexican capital approved several reforms to the local Solid Waste Law and established that products such as straws, plates or plastic balloons cannot be distributed unless they are made of compostable materials. The Government of Colombia, which has a National Plan for the Sustainable Management of Single-Use Plastics, is also working along the same lines.

The Uruguayan Government, through its “Law on the sustainable use of plastic bags” established several measures to discourage their use and promote their reuse and recycling.

The Council of the European Union approved in March 2019 the disappearance of single-use plastics in 2021 such as:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery (spoons, forks, knives and chopsticks).
  • Disposable plastic plates.
  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Cotton swabs for the ears made of plastic.
  • Plastic sticks to hold balloons.
  • Oxo degradable plastics and food containers.

At the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly, a global agreement was reached in line with that of the EU to eliminate single-use plastics by 2030.

At BOMAC Industries, we strongly support all efforts of people, organizations, companies and governments to build a circular and sustainable economy. We keep investing in research and development of new technologies that can help us to recycle plastic and to produce alternatives such as biodegradable materials. Take a look at our latest products and see how you can help to build a cleaner world yourself.

How to organize an eco-friendly picnic

How to organize an eco-friendly picnic

Spread out the blanket, sit down, unpack the food – for many of us, a picnic is as much a part of summer as a visit to the outdoor pool or an ice cream cone. When you walk through the park and watch other people having a picnic, you might start wondering how much waste can be generated in a simple activity like a picnic. No wonder that many waste bins in the park are literally overflowing. Yet, it is very easy to have a picnic in a way that protects the environment and nature – not just with a view to the rubbish.

The most important part of the trick is the right packaging for the food and the right cutlery. In short: reusable is great, disposable is a flop. In their own home (hopefully) nobody would think of eating from a paper plate or drinking from one of those thin-walled plastic cups. So why at the picnic? An unbelievable 350,000 tons of waste are generated in Germany every year from disposable tableware and food to-go packaging. It’s insanity!

If you’re afraid of broken glass, you don’t necessarily have to take glasses or porcelain plates with you. There are now attractive, indestructible reusable tableware products that you can also borrow among friends or neighbors. For those three or four picnics a year, not everyone needs to be fully equipped.

The EU against disposable plastic plates

After all, the EU has taken on the issue and in 2019 legislated that since July 3, 2021 no plastic disposable plates and no plastic disposable cutlery may be sold any longer. The same applies to drinking straws and swizzle sticks made of single-use plastic. An exception is made for to-go beverage cups and plastic fast food packaging, which are still allowed – unless they are made of polystyrene. Retailers may then only sell goods that they already have in stock. However, anyone who remembers the ban on light bulbs in the EU knows how long such a sale of left stock can last.

Another word on plastic packaging and plastic tableware advertised as “biodegradable” or “compostable”: That’s no better. At best, these plastics decompose in industrial composting plants, but not in nature. And generally, this stuff isn’t even allowed in the bio bin.

Separate trash? Of course!

If there is rubbish at a picnic despite the reusable packaging, you should take it home with you and dispose of it properly – i.e. separately. The rubbish from the rubbish bin in the park is incinerated instead of being recycled. In the worst case, the wind will blow it away or birds will take it out of the bin to look for something to eat. So the garbage all too often ends up in nature and in our waters. Even if we threw it in the bin outside in the park.

Plant-based foods are the first choice

Of course, the food choices that we make when we picnic also have a huge impact on nature. The same applies here as at home: if you eat little meat, you protect the environment because animal husbandry on the scale usual today uses enormous amounts of water, space and energy and fuels both the climate crisis and the extinction of species. Vegetables and other plant-based foods are a far better choice.

Organic, fair, regional and seasonal – these quality features are crucial. Grapes in April, strawberries in October and chocolate without organic and fair trade labels harm nature, the environment and the people in the producing countries – regardless of whether we eat them at home at the dining table or in the wild.

A place in the countryside

Picnics in the great outdoors are allowed nearly everywhere. But not entirely everywhere. Picnics are taboo on flowering grasslands where orchids grow and butterflies and wild bees live, as well as in many nature reserves where you are not allowed to leave the paths. By the way, this is not a harassment, but serves to protect the plants and animals. So you should stick to it as much as possible – not just to avoid getting into trouble, but because it really makes sense.

How clothes are made from recycled plastic bottles

How clothes are made from recycled plastic bottles

Clothing can not only be made of natural fibers, but also from other materials that are completely less commonly known – for example, of plastics, recycled plastic of course, which are turned into polyester. Today we explain how a plastic bottle turns into quality clothing and why this trend holds great promises for the future.

Why should we recycle plastic in the first place?

According to the reports of the UN Committee for Nature Conservation, every year a million birds, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and a huge number of fish die on earth due to plastic waste. Millions of tons of garbage, most of which is plastic, is dumped into the world’s oceans every year. A real garbage island (Eastern Garbage Patch) is already drifting in the Pacific Ocean, which is a very dense deposit of plastic and other waste. The island is twice the size of the United States.

In addition to caring for the fauna of the world’s oceans, there are many more reasons in favor of recycling plastic, for example, saving energy and reduction of greenhouse gases: research shows that replacing primary plastic material with recycled plastics in production can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How does plastic turn into jeans and t-shirts

How many plastic bottles do we use and throw away every year? It’s hard to even count. All these plastic bottles of sunflower oil or mineral water are made of polyethylene terephthalate (abbreviated as PET).

This polyester is distributed in the world approximately like this: about 70% of plastic goes to the production of threads and fibers (and we get our usual polyester), about 30% goes to plastic bottles.

Interesting fact, in Russia, surprisingly, it is the opposite: in Russia, PET is used mainly for the production of plastic containers, primarily plastic bottles, and to a much lesser extent for processing into fibers.

In some cases, PET does not only turn into a bottle or a polyester fiber but does both, one after the other. We are talking about recycled plastic, which is usually called recycled polyester. Everything is possible thanks to the ability of this popular type of plastic to be easily recycled and returned to the consumer in a completely new form. For example, a plastic waste bottle can return to us in the form of new clothing through recycling process.

The technology for the formation of recycled polyester seems simple: caps and labels are removed from plastic bottles at recycling plants and bottles are sorted by color. Then the cleaned plastic is pressed, cut into small pieces and passed through a steam boiler. As a result of all process steps, a secondary granule or flake is formed, a material ready for the production of new products.

In particular, polyester is made from recycled granules – a fabric that is easy to wash, while the material dries quickly. After washing it does not change size and shape. Recycled polyester has become one of the main materials in the arsenal of eco-friendly designers.

Who produces clothes from recycled plastic

The use of household plastic waste for the production of clothing goes back to the late 90s. The process was first initiated by the classic fashion brand Paco Rabanne. After a couple of years, the idea began to be rapidly implemented in the industry: in 2002, the Canadian fashion duo Dsquared2 presented their recycled collection. At the show, the models gracefully walked the runway with trash bags in their hands, and all the clothes were made of recycled plastic. The extravagant move of the designers did not go unnoticed and gained many followers.

The ideas of sustainable fashion and sustainable clothing (eco-fashion and eco-clothing) unexpectedly received support both in the world of high fashion and in the area of ​​more affordable brands. In 2008, the American Apparel collection became the first to implement it in mass production – the creators of a cheap basic wardrobe in honor of Earth Day released a collection of accessories made from recycled plastic bottles.

A year later, under the influence of Stella McCartney, the sports company Adidas also joined the fight for the environment. Their special eco-friendly line is created exclusively from recycled plastic, turned into a special type of eco-polyester. Adidas uniforms made of recycled polyester (labeled as PES) were worn by about 70,000 volunteers at the London 2012 Olympics.

Recently, another sportswear giant, Nike, has also joined the recycling movement. In an interview, Charles Denson, Nike’s chief brand manager, stated that “Producing fabric from plastic bottles reduces energy consumption by 30% compared to production from virgin polyester fibers, but saving energy is not even the main advantage. We use 13 million plastic bottles in our football uniforms that would otherwise sit in landfills for centuries.”