Did you know that your plastic water bottles have something have common with the cheesy leisure suits you found in your grandfather’s closet a few years back? It turns out that both were made from polyester. Different forms of polyester were used, mind you, but the foundational materials were pretty much the same.
Obviously, there are plenty of differences between plastic water bottles and leisure suits. Chief among them is the fact that you cannot recycle leisure suits. As a recycler of scrap industrial plastic, we can promise you there aren’t any collection centers run by companies looking to shred funky leisure suits in an attempt to recover the polyester. On the other hand, you can recycle all those plastic water bottles.
More Than One Polyester
Any confusion you might be experiencing right now is probably related to a common misconception that there is just one polyester. There isn’t. Polyester is not a single material or fabric. It is actually a group of polymers with a repeating ester group on each main chain unit. No worries if that scientific explanation doesn’t make sense to you.
It is more important that you know about both natural and synthetic polyesters. There are a small number of natural polyesters that are found in nature. For example, certain plants and bee species naturally produce polyesters.
Most of the polyesters that we use for manufacturing are produced synthetically. The most common among them is the one you are probably most familiar with: polyethylene terephthalate (PET). All of those plastic water and juice bottles you throw away so frequently are made from PET. So is polyester fabric. If you are sporting a 100% polyester jacket, it’s made entirely with small threads spun from PET fibers.
You might be wearing poly-cotton blends as well. They are fabric created by spinning cotton and PET fibers to create threads that are subsequently woven together. Poly-cotton blends are utilized extensively by clothing manufacturers around the world.
Recycling PET Bottles
PET is a favorite polyester for recycling purposes. Simply put, clean PET is incredibly easy to recycle. You just chop or shred it into pieces small enough to be added to virgin plastic prior to forming into new products. Adding recycled material to virgin material doesn’t reduce the finished product’s integrity all that much, if done in the right proportions.
Recycling PET is so easy that there’s actually money in it. Remember that we buy plastic – including baled water bottles. Bales of bottles require very little effort on our part. We pick them up, ship them to our plant, and reduce them to PET regrind.
We turn around and sell PET regrind to manufacturers around the country. Because our industrial plastic recycling processes are so cost-effective, we can offer regrind at a price low enough to attract manufacturers. Needless to say, we have plenty of customers throughout Tennessee, Michigan, Arkansas, and the other four states in which we operate.
Donate Your Polyester Clothing
As for those polyester leisure suits now taking up space in your closet, you cannot get rid of them by packing them up with baled PET bottles. The only way to recycle them is to donate them to a thrift store or charity that collects old clothing. Maybe someone else would welcome the opportunity to have a new suit.
Now you know what your plastic water bottles and your grandfather’s leisure suits have in common. Both have their roots in polyester, a material manufacturers have loved for decades. We love polyester too – at least the kind that is used to make PET water and juice bottles.