As technology finds innovative ways to recycle, waste products are being used in an unlikely range of goods in high street stores.
First it was “bags for life”, chunky doormats and, more recently, clothing such as fleeces, swimwear and pack-away macs. Now towels made from recycled plastic bottles are to go on sale in the UK for the first time in August – the latest initiative in the war against single-use plastics and the result of a technological breakthrough that has produced a fabric deemed soft and fluffy enough to use on human skin.
The new range of eco-friendly bath towels will go on sale online and at 18 branches of John Lewis in the last week of August, after nearly two years of extensive testing and work with suppliers. The polyester from the recycled plastic bottles accounts for 35% of their content, while the rest is regenerated cotton.
The bath towel is made from about 10 one-litre plastic bottles, and John Lewis says that the use of recycled rather than virgin cotton will save about five tonnes of fabric from going to landfill each year.
The beer brand Corona and marine organisation Parley for the Oceans – which has previously created footwear and swimwear made from ocean plastic in collaboration with Adidas – have teamed up in a Clean Waves project to boost the use of ecologically innovative materials in fashion and design. Among the products is a new limited-edition Hawaiian shirt, designed by Adolfo Correa. It incorporates plastic pollution imagery – including toothbrushes and plastic bottles – into the pattern, while the fabric itself is made from plastic “harvested” from the open oceans, remote islands, shorelines and coastal communities.