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Each year in America, as well as around the world, consumers purchase a remarkable amount of bottled water. In fact, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the consumption of bottled water rises approximately 10 percent each year, with a staggering 8.6 billion gallons consumed in 2008 alone. With the growth of innovative recycling programs both at curbside and in businesses, recycling has never been easier, or more popular. For many consumers, recycling provides a feeling of ownership in the protection of the environment, so we make the effort to crush and toss empty bottles in the recycle bin, but not much thought goes into what happens after the bottle hits the bin. Therefore, consumers know very little about the incredible chain of events in which the water bottle transforms from unwanted, recycled garbage, to trendy t-shirt.

According to container-recycling.org, “around 899 thousand tons of PET plastic bottles were recycled nationwide in 2013”. As they pile up in the recycle bin, some of the bottles begin this amazing journey, taking them all over the world. Recycling companies such as ACP Solutions, purchase recyclable materials like empty water bottles, and process, bail, and ship them to factories who specialize in making plastic bottles into fabric.

Once at the textile factory, a machine shreds the bottles to remove any leftover liquid and then chops them into tiny pieces. Workers sort the different colored pieces of bottle, and the coveted clear plastic shreds head for a bath. The first bath removes the different types of plastic left over from lids and other remnants, and then they move next door to a caustic bath for label removal. The wet clear shreds then go to an oven for about ten hours to dry out.

While drying in a rotating oven, different light weight fabrics mix with the shreds to add color and consistency. After drying, the materials move to a rotating screw which heats them to a melting point and pushes them through a sieve. The melted material then emerges as long pieces of string.

The next step involves combining the strings, while the machine heats and stretches them to bond them together. Now that the material is one solid flexible piece, the next machine undoes all the previous work by tearing it apart and forming a fluffy type substance used in the production of raw polyester. This fluff, once bailed, moves on to a new factory which scrapes and carts the fluff into a strengthened felt. The machines then tease and spin the felt into bobbins of thread.

A giant loom, like a spider, then spins and weaves the thread into whole sheets of polyester fabric ready for stylists to design and cut patterns of the latest styles of t-shirts. So, what was once garbage, thrown away never to be thought of again, is recycled, shredded, made into material, and now graces the aisles of stores around the world.

Here at ACP Solutions, we value the business needs of our customers.  From scrap commodity purchasing, and waste stream consulting, to full-service logistics, we’re committed to providing a seamless solution for any operation.  Visit www.weareacp.com for more information on how we can help businesses focus on what they do best while we take care of the other garbage.

-Article written by Shannon Birman

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