How is fleece made of plastic bottles?
Do you know what happens to the plastic bottles after
you dispose them? Yes, they are recycled to make a lot
of things. Maybe, bottles again, plastic packets, containers
and various other things. Or maybe, they are turned
into a fabric you can wear. Strange is it? …Absolutely
not. Plastic fabric or fleece as it is called is made
from recycled plastic bottles. But, how is fleece made
of plastic bottles? It is an extensive process, definitely
but it is definitely worth it. Generally, it takes about
25 disposed plastic bottles to make enough polar fleeces
for an adult to sew a piece of clothing out of it.
Fleece is very similar to wool. Rather, it has all
the qualities of wool but it weighs much lighter. So
next time if you plan to get warm clothing for yourself,
let the sheep have their woolens. Go for polar fleece.
Fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles and petroleum.
And without a doubt, the material is highly flammable.
But, being comfortable, light weight and water resistant,
fleece is becoming very popular these days. To explain
in easy words, polar fleece is made by forcing liquid
plastic through tiny holes. When the plastic cools,
they become threads, which are then used to make fabric.
In reality though, the process is a little complicated.
Firstly, disposed plastic bottles are sorted out according
to color. They are then sterilized and any foreign material
is removed. These plastic bottles are then liquefied
under high temperatures ranging more than 250oC. Terephthalic
acid, which is derived from petroleum, is made to react
with another petroleum derivative that is ethylene glycol
under very high temperatures to create polymer. This
is virgin plastic, which is then mixed with the liquefied
plastic. When the mixture cools down, it becomes like
syrup, which is then ready to be made into threads.
The liquid is then forced through a metal disk with
holes. It is called the spinneret. When the liquid comes
in contact with air, it hardens to become thread like
These threads, called tow are then wound around a warm
spool. The tow is made to go through another process,
called drawing. This process makes the polyester fleece
strong and durable. The threads are made to go through
a drawing machine, which pulls it to more than double
its size. After the pulling, the tow goes through a
process, where the threads are shrunk and the fabric
gets a soft structure. These processes strengthen the
molecular bonds in the fabric. The tow is now ready
to be dried and inspected. As the threads pass through
the drier, they get the texture very similar to that
of wool. Each strand is inspected for uniformity and
made into balls, very similar to what you see made from
wool. The fabric is complete. What comes after this
is dying and knitting. Knitting makes cloth out of the
polyester fleece threads.
The cloth may go through an optional process of napping,
which is also responsible for giving texture to what
we know as velvet. The fabric may also be sprayed with
a waterproof substance, but that is optional too. There
you have it, your soda bottle turned into cloth. Scientific
innovations have definitely changed the concept of fabric.
Polyester fleece can warm you even in the most extreme
conditions, which wool cannot.