Upcycling Products Protect the Earth
Upcycling Products Protect the Earth
  • 박수빈 기자
  • 승인 2020.12.17 09:00
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[Infographic = By reporter, Park Su-been] The importance of plastic recycling
[Infographic = By reporter, Park Su-been] The importance of plastic recycling


As environmental pollution problems become more serious, there are an increasing number of worldwide movements designed to protect the environment. Among them, there is an increasing effort to solve the problem of plastic waste.

The Seoul Environmental Union started the ‘Plastic Mill’ project in July. It is a project aligned with the Sparrow Club that collects bottle caps for two months and sends them to Plastic Mill. For example, if a bottle cap is sent to the Plastic Mill, it is ground and processed into up-cycling products. After that, it is sent back to the members of the Sparrow Club. This is designed to reduce the problem of plastic breaking down in nature and polluting the environment for hundreds of years without being recycled because it is too small to be separated in the recycling bin. Through this project, a total of 83,330 bottle caps have been recycled, and the project will be implemented on a larger scale trial basis by 2022.

Clothes made of plastic waste are also in the spotlight. Adidas, a world-renowned sportswear company has made Real Madrid soccer kits using recycled plastic waste from the Indian Ocean. Each kit was made by recycling 28 plastic bottles. In February, H&M also released a collection using bionic, a polyester fiber made from recycled plastic waste that came from the beach. People in the textile industry expect bionic to be much softer than other fibers made from plastics, allowing it to make a wide range of clothes from jeans to dresses.

Korean companies are also making the same efforts. Huvis, the nation’s largest polyester company has been developing and using eco-friendly materials for 10 years. When making a T-shirt, about eight plastic bottles were recycled, and clothes were then made as national uniforms during the South Africa World Cup. Also, Hyo-sung T&C developed the nation’s first recycled polyester yarn in 2008. It dramatically reduced the energy and carbon dioxide generated by the process of making fibers as it was made by recycling 100 percent of the plastic bottles used. The material has attained international eco-friendly certification. Also, Hyo-sung T&C recently cooperated with Pleatsmama and made a bag that uses 16 used plastic bottles.

Despite these various efforts, a vast quantity of plastic waste is still polluting the environment. According to a joint study by the University of California, Georgia, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide over the past 70 years with an estimated 6.3 billion tons thrown away as garbage. The plastic recycling rate was only 9%, and 12% was incinerated. And the rest was either buried in landfills or neglected in the sea. This led to the creation of a plastic island 14 times the size of South Korea in the Pacific Ocean 20 years ago, and since then plastic waste has piled up on every island and continent.

If problems with plastic continue, the grim situation of dredging only plastic instead of fish in nets will come true. Attempts to recycle plastic have merit, but reducing the amount of plastic waste is the best way to protect the environment. Even a small change in an individual’s behavior can help to save the earth.

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