Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed an ingenious solution to turn plastic bags, wraps and other supermarket waste into textiles.
They have developed self-cooling fabrics from polyethylene, commonly used in plastic bags. They estimate that the new fabric may be more sustainable than cotton and other common textiles. The eco-friendly, recycling textile could revolutionize fashion as it resists dirt and can be washed on a cold cycle in just ten minutes. The hope is that sportswear, shoes, army uniforms and perhaps even spacesuits can be formed from fabric created out of plastic bags. The engineers found a way to spin polyethylene into fibers and yarn first made from spaghetti strings and weaved in a way that would allow it to absorb water and sweat. The researchers modeled the yarn by testing the wicking ability over cotton, nylon and polyester by dipping strips in water and measuring the time it took for the liquid to climb up each strip. The plastic yarn wicked away and evaporated the water faster than other common textiles.
Over 380 million tons of plastic are produced each year. Most of the plastic bags are used for approximately 12 minutes and it takes at least 500 years for one to degrade in a landfill.