How Do Recycled PET Bottles Become an ergobag Schoolbag?
ergobag's sustainability expert Julian...
... loves all sports, from outdoor sports in the open air to basketball played in a stuffy sports hall. He's responsible for making sure the environmental impact of producing an ergobag is kept as low as possible. He also shares his experience with budding sustainability experts at the University of Cologne. We asked him 4 questions about PET recycling.
Is it really possible to make an ergobag out of recycled PET bottles?
Yes (even though it may seem unbelievable at first!) PET bottles and the fabric used to make backpacks and other textiles, all come from the same origin: Crude oil. Technology can be harnessed to return used PET bottles to a liquid state. They can then be fashioned into threads for textiles and those textiles are then sewn together to form an ergobag.
How do you actually go about making a schoolbag out of recycled PET bottles?
PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate. This is a synthetic material in the polyester family. Firstly, the PET bottles are broken up into little plastic shreds. These shreds are then cleaned of any soft drink residue with specially-designed machines. Afterwards, the plastic shreds are melted down into pellets, which are blown through ultrathin nozzles to produce wafer-thin polyester fibers. These fibers are then twisted together and spun into long strands. A weaving machine weaves these strands into polyester fabric. This unassuming white fabric is then transformed into cheerful, colorful materials with a mixture of water and colored pigments. After that, the fabric is washed and put out for drying! In the final step, the fabric is cut out and sewn together along with other components, such as zippers, to make a finished ergobag.
How many recycled PET bottles are there in one ergobag pack set?
One ergobag pack set contains 36 recycled 0.5-liter PET bottles. That's quite a lot, but if we look at how many have been recycled in this way since ergobag's launch in 2010, the number comes to 42 million. We're really proud of this and hope to be able to breathe new life into even more used bottles. Because compared to fabrics not made from recycled PET bottles, we save a lot of water (-20%) and energy (-50%). As a result, we cut down on CO2 emissions too.
Can I donate PET bottles to be made into an ergobag? If not, where do you get your bottles from?
We have a plastic bottle deposit scheme in Germany. We return our empty bottles to the scheme and ideally, these bottles are then turned into new bottles. The bottles used to make an ergobag come from Taiwan, which has no bottle deposit or recycling scheme. Our fabrics are made there too to help keep transport mileage to a minimum.