Benetton has realized the new collection of bomber jackets named Eco-Recycle using plastic bottles.
Not all quilted jackets are made with feathers, in fact most of them use padding made with synthetic materials. They are more animal friendly, require a simpler maintenance and, thanks to technology’s development, they can reduce heat loss as much as real fathers do. Another great benefit is that they can be realized by using old plastic, such as bottles in polyethylene terephthalate (PET bottles). That is what the Italian cloth brand Benetton has done for its new Eco-Recycled collection of bomber jackets. Adult jackets require 26 bottles of 330ml; jackets for children only 13.
Synthetic upholstering have a simpler maintenance and through ongoing researches they developed special fibres with thermal performance always closer to real feathers. Indeed, companies specialized in sport and outdoor clothing use more and more synthetic fibres: on these clothes’ labels it is always indicated the percentage of acryl or polyester.
By using old plastic in order to produce synthetic fibres, clothing companies reduce the use of virgin raw materials, such as petroleum (the basic ingredient for synthetic fabrics and plastics), and find a new purpose for plastics that would become waste otherwise.
Recycled materials paddings are usually more expensive than common ones, but due to the raise of awareness toward environmental and plastic waste issues in the last years, an increasing number of costumers are neglecting the economical aspect in favour of sustainability. Also Benetton claimed that the decision of using more sustainable materials is not led by cost effectiveness, but by what costumers perceive as more important.
The first step to turn plastic bottles into Eco-Recycle jackets is the picking up and stocking of the PET bottles: they get cleaned and divided based on the colours. Only transparent ones can be used to produce synthetic materials and 65 bottles can generate one kilo of recycled padding. Next step is the mulching of the bottles into small plastic fragments, that will be melted together to obtain long cylinders. When cylinders are solidified, they get cut into grains, which pass through very small holes and will finally constitute fibres for jackets’ upholstering.
The whole production process is certified by Global Recycle Standard (GRS), a list of principles written by Textile Exchange, one of the most important non-profit organization to promote a sustainable development of textile sector globally.
Eco-Recycle jackets are just one step of the company’s wider sustainable commitment. Among the many undertakings, since 2013 Benetton is cooperating with Greenpeace’s Detox program, that aims to eliminate toxic substances in textile industry. In 2019 the company made some innovations in its products’ transportation in order to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. For instance, it reduced air transport in favour of the less polluting rail one. By eliminating the use of pallet on trucks, the company optimized the space so that it can transport the same amount of products with a minor number of vehicles. Thanks to this and other undertakings, Benetton claims to have reduced more than 25% of carbon dioxide emissions generated by the road transportation of its products.