How does a plastic bottle become a shirt?

How does a plastic bottle become a shirt?

Every Nube9 garment begins as a recycled, post-consumer, single-use plastic water bottle. How does that happen? Well, it's all in the polyester (and no, we don't mean your grandmother's polyester).

plastic bottles plastic recycling symbols

Plastic bottles labeled as #1 on the bottom (think Evian or Coke bottles) are the same chemistry make-up as polyester or, technically, polyethylene terephthalate (P.E.T.). We partner with REPREVE, a leading U.S. manufacturer of only recycled fibers, to move a plastic water bottle from the recycling stream in cities across the U.S. all the way through to becoming a fiber. It's a process that offsets the need to use new resources, such as petroleum, and emits fewer greenhouse gases than using virgin polyester.

From Bottle to Chip to Fiber, then Fabric

When a #1 plastic bottle is recycled, it makes it's way to REPREVE where its washed and chopped into P.E.T. chips or flakes. Its then melted into beads and extruded into fiber filaments (imagine a spaghetti pasta maker). That fiber makes its way to our partner mill in Los Angeles where its woven into our oh-so-comfortable yoga, jersey, mesh and French terry fabrics.

Be Part of the Recycle.

Last year, Nube9 used more than 70,000 recycled plastic water bottles to make our garments. REPREVE has transformed more than 4 billion recycled bottles into fiber. But, its still a drop in the bucket. Here in the U.S., less than 32% of plastic bottles are recycled. The rest enter our waste streams, of which 10% potentially find their way into our waterways and oceans. By comparison, China recycles 83% of it's plastic bottles (src: Repreve).

All of this is not to say "use more plastic". Our mission is to inspire mindful consuming and eliminate single-use plastic from consumer goods all together. So, next time you're in the beverage aisle, look for glass or aluminum and skip the plastic.

It takes a little more than ten bottles to make one pound of fabric. Our leggings recycle more than 20 plastic bottles and our hoodies recycle more than 25.

Jonna Bell

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