Making Textiles from Recycled Plastic Bottles

Monique Maissan is an EO Shanghai member, CEO of Vision Textiles and founder of Waste2Weave. 

Plastic seemed like a miracle when it was invented in 1907. Now, 110 years into the Plastic Age, it’s a menace to our environment and our health. We’re seduced by its convenience: more than 50% of plastic is used once and thrown away.

What’s worse, virtually every piece of plastic that has ever been manufactured still exists in some form, except a very small percentage that has been incinerated, because plastic takes from 500 to 1,000 years to degrade. Plastic enters our oceans at an alarming rate, killing 1.5 million marine animals each year. In humans, certain plastics are known to disrupt the endocrine system, impair neurological function, and have been linked to cancer, obesity, early puberty and recurrent miscarriages.

As CEO of Vision Textiles and founder of Waste2Weave, Monique Maissan is a social entrepreneur endeavoring to solve the problem of plastic by transforming it into fashion, like the ensemble pictured at left.

“Our process of making textiles from recycled plastic bottles is certified by the conventional Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and has our unique Recycle Assurance 3-step (RA3) certification,” she explains. “RA3 is our three-step, patent-pending system that guarantees our textiles are made from recycled plastic bottles. The three steps include a chemical test, a specific fiber content label and a transparent paper trail throughout the manufacturing process.”

Read how Monique established a revolving fund for micro-entrepreneurs to buy supplies and equipment in part one of this Octane blog article.

 

Here’s how Waste2Weave makes textiles from recycled plastic:

Step 1: Plastic bottles are collected in a controlled and certified way. They are often donated as part of the circular economy by customers who buy Waste2Weave products.

Step 2: Bottles are brought to a recycling factory, stripped of caps and labels and thoroughly cleaned to remove any residue or contaminants.

Step 3: The bottles are processed into flakes and washed again to ensure there is nothing left but 100% Recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

Step 4: The clean flakes are transformed into small pellets of pure recycled plastic (RPET) that is virtually indistinguishable from “virgin” PET.

Step 5: The pellets are extruded into yarn, which can be made into just about any color.

Step 6: The yarn is woven into textile fabrics of 100% recycled plastic bottles or mixed with natural fibers to create mixes with cotton, viscose, wool or silk.

Learn more about how Monique is solving social and environmental issues with fashion in her Inc.com post.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and connections to experts. Discover the Entrepreneurs’ Organization today!

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