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adding that the fishermen take part in the scheme voluntarily because they are "concerned and worri

Time:2018-06-14 01:18Shoes websites Click:

re oceans plastic pollution Fashion sustainability

Environment Can plastic recycling solve the fast-ref="/sneakers/201702/1712421.html">fashion problem?

Fashion firms are tapping into growing public outrage at plastic pollution by offering snazzy garments made from old water bottles and other waste. But will it catch on — and can it make a difference?

Photo: Models wear dress made from plastic at a fashion show (Source: picture-alliance/Zumapress/R.S. Hussain)

Old fishing nets, plastic bottles and threadbare tires are generally consigned to the landfill, or end up in our oceans. But one eco-minded fashion firm is turning that waste into jackets, sneakers and flip-flops in a rainbow of hues.

"Plastic pollution is a huge topic right now — also within the industry,"  Carolina Álvarez-Ossorio,  spokeswoman for Ecoalf, said speaking in the Spanish company's new Berlin store.

There, participants in a green tour of Berlin sit on a massive semi-circular sofa made from old plastic bottles, as they listen to a talk about the firm's history and environmental philosophy.  Around them, minimalist t-shirts and padded coats — also made from plastic bottles — hang on racks. 

The plastic comes from 3,000 fishermen who work along Spain's Mediterranean coast. They catch litter in their nets alongside fish. Instead of jettisoning the waste back into the sea, they now pass it along to Ecoalf. The company then processes it into "sea thread."

"The challenge is not finding garbage — that is everywhere — but having the technology to transform it," Álvarez-Ossorio told DW, adding that the fishermen take part in the scheme voluntarily because they are "concerned and worried" about the worsening pollution they see.

Wearing fashion made from waste doesn't mean that you have to look rubbish

While Ecoalf's business model offers one way to deal with that pollution, founder Javier Goyeneche originally established the company in 2009 because he was surprised by the lack of recycled clothes on the market.

Less than 1 percent of clothing is currently turned into new garments, and the "recycled" fabric Goyeneche did find for sale often contained as little as 5 percent reused materials.

Read more: Opinion: Still a long way till 'peak plastic'

Read more: Giving up my filthy fashion habit

Read more: Fast fashion: What's your waste size?

Recycling waste plastic into clothing 

Still, with news of our seas being filled with more plastic than fish by 2050 and of whales dying from eating plastic bags,  a growing number of firms like Ecoalf are incorporating waste into their collections.

For instance, elusive designer duo Vin and Omi make quirky futuristic creations from the material.

More established players like outdoor company The North Face recently transformed plastic bottles retrieved from three American national parks into a line of bags and t-shirts. Patagonia, also an outdoor-wear specialist, has been turning discarded plastic into fleece jackets since 1993.

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Recycling plastic bottles into clothes has the obvious boon of delittering parts of our planet — but it still leaves an ecological footprint, even if it's smaller than that of the conventional fashion trade.

But Vin and Omi, for example, say that producing recycled fabrics made from old plastic uses 50 percent less energy and produces a third less CO2 compared to making plastic-based textiles from non-recycled materials.

Read more: Our addiction to growth is harming the climate

Trend or paradigm shift?

Big fashion firms including Target, Zara and Primark, as well as footwear makers like Nike and Adidas, are jumping on the green fashion trend too by hiring sustainability experts and touting their recycling credentials.

H&M plans to make its whole business "circular," meaning that it would recycle all of its garments. But in an interview on the company's website, Anna Gedda — head of sustainability at the Swedish fashion giant — said its success would depend on the development of new technologies.

"Finding innovations to fill the technological gaps we have throughout our supply chain and bringing these new innovations to market fast enough are two of our biggest challenges," said Gedda.

Even major stores such as US-based Target (pictured here) are marketing clothes made of recycled plastic bottles

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