Products Technology, Sustainability

From plastic bottles to snow jackets – 1/5

Article published on

Share this article

In October 2018, we traveled to Taiwan to retrace every step in the snow jacket manufacturing process, from recycling plastic bottles to making the finished product.

Episode #1: recycling plastic bottles.

The typical snow jacket is manufactured after extracting crude oil from the ground to make a polyester thread.
However, other options exist. Since 2008 – the year Picture was founded – we have used recycled polyester from plastic bottles as one way to reduce our dependence on oil.

We reclaim and provide real value to waste.

Our partner in Taiwan is a company called Sunny.

They recycle 2500 metric tons of plastic bottles per month in their factory. The bottles come primarily from waste-recycling programs in Taiwan.
An empty plastic bottle weighs 35 grams (1.2 oz) on average, which means that their factory recycles somewhere in the range of 70 MILLION bottles per month. This astronomical amount comes from Taiwan’s relatively small population of only 20 million people.

Taiwan ranks slightly above average, recycling 55% of its waste. Sorting and recycling has become an integral part of everyday household traditions.
As a comparison, in France, 60% of all waste is recycled, but with huge disparities between each type of waste (26% of plastic waste is recycled compared to 88% of all paper/cardboard waste).

In other words, since France consumes 9.3 billion bottles of water per year (even though our tap water is as clean and as potable as can be) we know that we are far from setting a good example.

While an interesting and important digression, let us get back to the recycling process. Before grinding up the bottles, they need to be washed. This requires a lot of water, and fortunately the factory has its own treatment system, allowing it to reuse 80% of the wastewater it produces

Grinding turns the bottles into flakes.
These flakes are then melted down in order to make thread. Learn how this is done in episode 2!

To conclude:

Recycling is incredibly important and necessary. Recycling requires energy, but uses approximately 40% less energy than crude oil extraction to provide the exact same polyester thread.

However, the sheer volume of bottles to recycle goes far beyond the absurd.

We are currently in the process of reviewing how we at Picture can significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use.