plastic

How Plastic Bottles Are Recycled Into Polyester

but first in the UK we throw away

billions of plastic bottles every year

we're getting much better at recycling

them but did you know that they can also

be turned into clothing this amazing

process starts here at the bottle

recycling center the first stage is

shredding when you throw away your

bottle you often leave a small amount of

drink inside shredding all the bottles

releases the unwanted liquid so it

doesn't affect the quality of the

plastic the shredded bottles are then

wrapped in cellophane and boxed up ready

to be shipped around the world

it may be rubbish to us but to the

Chinese textile industry this plastic

waste is a valuable commodity recycled

bottles arrived from all over the world

to feed the busy clothing industry

sorting separates the clear plastic from

the colored stuff clear plastic can be

made into white clothes or material that

can be dyed so it's extremely valuable

most clear plastic bottles have coloured

lids and stickers on them but these have

got to go so the bottles head for the

baths the colored curves are made of a

different plastic which floats a worker

can then strain them off the top

then there's a separate bath for the

stickers but the workers have to be

careful around this one it's corrosive

caustic soda very bad for the skin but

very good for removing labels after all

they're swimming what's left is a pile

of clear plastic shreds but it's rather

wet the next step is the ovens where

it's mixed with some light colored

plastics to produce white cloth you need

some light shaded material in the mix

the plastic will spend about 10 hours

here in these rotating drums slowly

drying out these workers have to

maneuver their cart back and forth

underneath the drums to catch the

plastic as it falls out but they've also

got to mind their heads on all the other

spinning ovens so we've got our plastic

bottles broken down and mix to produce

the right colors but it's very hard to

weave cloth from bits and pieces so

another step is needed the mixture is

sent through this rotating screw where

it's heated to 270 degrees Celsius this

melds the plastic but to make cloth we

don't want a big lump you need thread

the liquid plastic is forced through a

sieve and emerges on the other side as

great long strings which are collected

in the container below

we've now got thread but it isn't strong

enough to make cloth yet first it must

be combined and stretched several times

while being heated this will bond the

fibers together now it's taken ages to

produce this material but the next part

of the process is to tear it apart again

the fluff that emerges is the raw

substance you need to make polyester

however that takes place in another

Factory altogether so the workers here

bail it up and send it on it looks like

cotton wool but it's an entirely

man-made substance created from your old

bottles this machine scrapes it all onto

a very rough cloth which is loaded here

ready to be carded carding is where the

bonded fibers are brushed together so

they all lie in a similar direction

which strengthens the material the sheet

of polyester felt that emerges is now

ready to be turned into thread these

machines will tease it out

they spin off mile after mile of pure

polyester which is collected on these

bobbins and finally we reach the point

where you're armed plastic bottles

become cloth like a spider at the center

of its web the loom draws in thousands

of threads and weaves a new sheet of

polyester to give it a smoother feel

there are still two more processes to go

through the first is very delicate

this machine creates tiny loops on its

surface the second stage is the opposite

using a series of tough steel brushes

these spinning rollers catch and tear

all the carefully made loops the

shredded surface helps give the material

a soft furry feel making it far more

comfortable to the touch

so we've turned our recycled bottles

into polyester at last now it's time to

make some clothes using a roll of

material stylus to mark out the latest

designs being as economical as they can

with their handy template other they're

profiting from your rubbish they don't

want to create any more waste the pieces

will then be sent to workers who turn

your trash into the trendiest gear you

can find on the high street so what

started out as your rubbish was

carefully sorted then shredded and

turned into cloth that cloth was

shredded into fluff spun into thread and

turned into fashion from plastic bottles

to polyester clothing