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☁️ "Is Recycled Plastic Clothing a Lie?"

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Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Christina Binkley, Rachel Kibbe & Shilla Kim-Parker
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction | Recycled Plastic Clothing

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[6:36] CB: “I always felt really good about buying clothes and even other objects that said they were made from recycled plastic. […] It turns out that using products labeled recycled is not as virtuous as we think. Brands love it. Plastic bottles are being turned […] into fleece. Single use plastic recycled is going into shorts and swimsuits. Old fishing nets are being harvested and refashioned into eco nylon.”

[9:10] RK: “Once a plastic goes into a textile, whether it's virgin plastic or recycled plastic from bottles, […] we don't have the infrastructure or the sorting capabilities, or any of the technology at scale to turn that back into a new textile. But even though we're only recycling about 10% of our plastics, we do have the recycling infrastructure at a much greater scale to recycle bottles back into bottles.”

[9:44] RK: “If you're buying a t-shirt that's […] 100% plastic bottles, or ocean waste, or mixed poly cotton blend with recycled PET, while the carbon impact of using that recycled plastic is less than using virgin plastic, it can't be recycled again when it could have been if it stayed a bottle. And this has caused larger market problems and that the textile industry has been siphoning off recyclable plastics from the bottle industry and making recycled plastics for bottles, the prices of that commodity go up, which increases the need for virgin plastics for the bottle industry.

[10:37] RK: “Then there's the other issue of I think the campaigning around it, [which] is the greenwashing. […] Most ocean plastics are at the bottom of the ocean, [which] we're not gonna get. […] There are some sites that are pushing plastics into the ocean to reclaim them, and then call them ocean plastics.”

[11:22] RK: “Even if you could recycle a jacket that has multiple layers. The top layer is made out of recycled bottles, let's say, and maybe the inner layer is made out of another material and then you have a zipper and you have the buttons. The cost of disassembling all that and we don't have robotic sorting yet at scale that would be able to recognize it, disassemble it. […] Bottles are easier. They're generally one material […] and so those are just very hard to recycle.”

[12:04] RK: “I do have to say there's certain use cases that I do think are okay. […] But it takes coordinated effort. […] Rothy’s has already started to collect their shoes back and create the infrastructure and supply chain. […] I do think that footwear is a really challenging opportunity.”

Rating: ☁️☁️☁️

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 41 min | 🗓️ 06/30/2022
✅ Time saved: 39 min

Additional Links:
Article: “Recycled Plastic Swimsuits Aren’t as Green as You Think” (Vogue, 2022)

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