Sustainable Yarns – The Future of Fashion?

Plastic! Plastic! Plastic! Would we get by without it? Will we survive with it?

Un-recycled plastic pollute the world’s seas

A great deal has been said about the Earth’s plastic problem, highlighted by the fantastic BBC series Blue Planet 2 in 2017. Our beaches and waterways are awash with discarded plastic bottles, torn plastic bags and broken flip flops and the problem is predicted to only get worse as our consumption of goods increase.

It might sound sensationalist to say that plastic pollution could be the downfall of the human race, but the long term impact of this global problem has yet to be truly revealed. With micro plastics getting into the food chain via the consumption for meats and fish, what damage is this really doing to us?

The biggest problem we now face is how best to dispose of our unwanted plastic waste without polluting our planet even further. Landfill sites are full to capacity and incineration has the obvious downfall of the pollutants being released in gas form into the atmosphere. So rather than disposing of our waste, how about recycling it instead?

The vast majority of plastic bottles are today made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is a thermoplastic polymer resin. Its main benefits are that it is lightweight, easily mouldable, shatter proof and, most importantly, recyclable. PET plastic bottles have long been recycled into everyday garments, such as fleeces. The recycling process involves shredding the bottles into tiny micro particles, melting them down and extruding them into what is commonly known as polyester yarn. This yarn can then be spun into fabric and individual bobins which are then used in the textile industry.

The Repreve® yarn life cycle

Unfortunately, the use of polyester has not been so widespread in hosiery manufacturing, until now that is. At OGUK we are constantly looking at new opportunities and innovations and if such innovations can also help the planet then we are all for it. Our factory in Turkey, Penti, are currently developing a number of hosiery styles using one of the world’s leading recycled yarns; Repreve. Repreve is made by Unifi, a leading global textile solutions company. To date they have recycled over 10 billion plastic bottles and have a goal of 20 billion by 2020.

The Repreve yarn we are using has enabled us to develop a variety of products, ranging from a 20D sheer tight up to a 80D opaque version. Given enough publicity and awareness, we feel that these products could really play their part, however small, in tacking the globes plastic problem.