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Environment

This Indian Manufacturer Uses Plastic Bottles to Make Athletic Wear


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Plastic harms marine and human life, but 300 million tons of new plastic are still used worldwide every year. The Indian company Alcis Sports is producing its performance wear out of recycled plastic bottles fabrics, a sustainable alternative to polyester. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Alcis Sports is finding success in making sportswear out of plastic bottles, Quartz reports.

Based in India, the company is determined to make 90% of apparel out of recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles (also known as PET bottles), in the next two years. After coming up with the resourceful idea in 2016, now up to 50% of clothing from Paragon Apparels (its parent company) is made of recycled PET bottles. 

Alcis Sports has already proven to be profitable and made $250 million in 2017, according to Quartz. It’s predicted to bring in twice as much money for 2018.

Take Action: Take the Plastic Pledge: #UnplasticthePlanet

Roshan Baid, the owner of Paragon Apparels and Alcis Sports melts recycled plastic for yarn at a small plant in Mumbai using technology that makes garments breathable, light, and moisture-wicking. Eight PET plastic bottles can be turned into one athletic T-shirt. 

In 2016, Paragon Apparels landed a deal to manufacture all of Reebok’s Indian sportswear.  Around that time, Baid became fed up with plastic’s negative impact on the environment. The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduate hasn’t stopped finding innovative ways to use recycled materials ever since. 

Plastic bottles are known to endanger marine life and threaten human health. One study found certain types of plastics could take 450 years to break down. More than 380 million metric tons of plastic are produced every year, and plastic production is expected to increase by 40% over the next decade.

Clothing made out of recycled plastic might not completely solve the problem — their microfibres are thought to shed in washing machines and spread to the ocean, too. 

India alone produced over 15,324 tons of plastic waste every day, according to The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri). The country produced about 1,500 kilotons of PET between 2015 and 2016 alone, which was much higher than the previous year’s production (982 kilotons). The country is on track to minimize the country’s use and will ban all single-use plastics by 2022. 

But Baid wanted to bring it one step further than banning plastics. He realized using yarn made of recycled plastic was more sustainable than polyester, a material commonly used for sportswear because it’s stretchy. Polyester, however, requires a lot of water, chemicals and, fossil fuels to make that result in toxic byproducts. 

Read More: You'd Never Guess This Jacket Is Made of Plastic Bottles

Clothing made out of recycled plastic, on the other, hand is more efficient, reduces carbon emissions by over 54% and energy consumption by 50%, and saves 27 liters of water per item, according to Quartz.

Other companies have been quick to jump on the trend. In October, the retailer Everlane released its ReNew outerwear collection, which will be produced from 3 million recycled plastic bottles. That still leaves a lot of clothing production opportunities sitting in dumpsters right now — start designing.