Scientists have made fabrics from polythene (the plastic used to make plastic bags) in a move they say could reduce plastic pollution and make the fashion industry more sustainable. The new textiles have potential uses in sportswear, and even high-end fashion, according to US researchers. The plastic “cloth” is more environmentally-friendly than natural fibres, and can be recycled, they say.
The fabric is made from fibres of polythene woven on industrial looms into textiles that are designed to be comfortable to wear. Crucially, the fibres are designed to allow water to escape, rather than repelling water like conventional polythene. The researchers say the fabric is less damaging to the environment than the likes of wool, cotton, linen, silk, nylon and polyester, and can be washed in cold water, further reducing the environmental footprint. The plastic can be dyed in different colours before being woven into fabric.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Textile manufacturing consumes huge amounts of water and generates millions of tonnes of waste, as well as 5-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. Washing and drying clothes often consumes even more energy and water than the production phase.
Plastic bags recycled into fabric to fight pollution, BBC News, 2021-03-15