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How Does A Diet Coke Bottle Get Recycled Into A Pair Of Jeans? See and Learn!

By Glamour Magazine Jan 26, 2012 7:58PM

by Tracey Lomrantz, Glamour Magazine

Ever look at a piece of clothing that's labeled "eco-friendly" and wonder just how recycled its materials really are? I recently had a chance to visit one of the greenest textile factories in the world, and literally got to see how a Diet Coke bottle becomes a pair of jeans! Check out the totally fascinating process every step of the way...
 

Colombia is known for its textiles, so during my visit the ProExport team set up a visit to a couple of factories here in Medellin that are using some cutting-edge technologies to produce eco-friendly fabrics. I got to trace the process from soda bottle to Wrangler jeans at Enka de Colombia and Fabricato, and here's how it works:

 

 

 

 

The Enka factory specializes in post-consumer recycling, and they see a million bottles a day go through a process of grinding, cleaning, melting, and spinning to become Pet fiber, a kind of polyester that's made entirely of recycled plastic bottles (but that's nothing--the technology they're rolling out in 2014 will allow for three million bottles a day to be processed). They're also incredibly focused on keeping things green in their factory--they recycle their own waste and buy waste from other companies to process it for energy.
 

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After the bottles have been collected, they are sorted...


...ground up...
 


...and cleaned and separated to remove their labels and undergo a thorough sterilization.

Next the little plastic bits get heated up until they melt, and are extruded as a kind of plastic paste, which is sterilized once again and then stretched out to become more fibrous. Eventually it becomes a raw material that resembles cotton, and then it's shipped to factories that make stuffing for pillows and furniture, and sold to textile companies who make fabrics out of it, like Fabricato.


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They take bales of Pet fiber and Colombian and American-grown cotton and spin them into yarn, stretching and working until the fibers become parallel, working them thinner and thinner until they're a weavable yarn.

 

That yarn then gets dyed (the colors vary depending on the denim) and makes its way to enormous computerized looms, where it's woven into huge rolls of denim that probably look a lot more familiar than anything else you've seen here (I know it did to me!).

 

And finally, that denim is sent to factories where it is cut and sewn into something every American on the planet would recognize--jeans! Kinda cool to know these Wranglers were once a soda bottle, isn't it!? Don't you think this technology is pretty interesting?

Wouldn't you love to see more factories adopt such an environmentally conscious way of working? Are you a fan of clothes made from eco-friendly fabrics? Discuss!

 

 

 

More from Glamour:
14 Sexy Going Out Dresses You Can Wear When It’s Cold Out

50 Things Men Are Afraid to Ask For But Want Super-Duper Badly

What Your Hairstyle Says About You (According to Guys)

 

5Comments
Jan 27, 2012 10:49PM
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Thanks for the article and the pictures! I love this story

 and hopefully it will help inspire more people to recycle

when they are able to see the results. I would love to see

more stories like this.

 

Jan 27, 2012 7:07PM
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Carpet fibers have been made this way for a lot longer....the carpet fiber industry blows through more than 6 Billion plastic bottles....the USA still holds more than 73% of the worlds carpet industry....so we are already on top of this technology...it just wasn't marketable until everyone went "Green".....walk into any carpet store and almost all of it some sort of recycled product.
Jan 27, 2012 5:46PM
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100% polyester jeans?  That must be unpleasant for the wearer and all those around.
Jan 27, 2012 5:26PM
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Didn't I see this on a Cheech and Chong movie? "Fiberweed" Yea, I'm sure it's just denim that will make it's way up from Columbia ;)  On a brighter note, good job on recycling. Too bad America couldn't pull it's thumb out of its collective @SS and come up with this idea and JOBS.
Jan 27, 2012 3:16PM
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This is a great idea because you are already using resources that are available.  My dogs collar was made of recycled plastic bottles and is very nice looking.
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