Over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year. Over the past few years, awareness of plastic waste has grown, and many have found ways to reduce the chances of plastic waste ending up in nature or landfills. One of these ways is to avoid using virgin plastics and instead recycle and reuse plastic products that have been discarded in oceans and landfills. These plastics are recovered and given new life in the form of cool and unique items. 

If you are interested in what plastic bottles can become after their initial use, here are a few ways to collect enough water bottles to start a business:

  1. Start a community box in your neighbourhood, at a local grocery store, or at a nearby school. Personalise the box by putting messages that will compel people to recycle their water bottles. Simply buy stationery like paint and sharpies from the Officeworks catalogue to make DIY advertisements for your collection box. People will appreciate the personal touch. 
  2. Collect water bottles at home; if you buy water, get family members to keep every bottle they use.
  3. If you live close to a shopping centre, ask to put a collection centre or collections bins where restaurants can dump the water bottles.

So what are the items you can make with plastic bottles?

  • Activewear 

Did you know that you can make yarn out of recycled plastic bottles? 

Recycled bottles are collected, sent to a recycling centre, and shredded to eliminate any remaining liquid. Clear and coloured plastic, stickers, and bottle lids are separated from the bottles. Then, they’re submerged in water, where the tops float to the surface and are removed. A second bath containing chemicals that aid in removing any stickers on the bottles is run. The chemical baths turn the plastic into mushy clear plastic pieces, which are then dried for over 8 hours. 

A rotating screw is used to melt the plastic and create large strings. These strings are collected, then reheated and stretched to create fibres. The fibres are torn apart and turned into a raw, fuzzy substance that can be turned into cloth by spinning it into thread. This thread can then be turned into activewear, items such as yoga pants, crop tops and athletic jackets. 

Several companies have used this method to make their activewear, such as Girlfriend Collective and Team Timbuktu

Plastic as a material for activewear is excellent because it is sweat-wicking, quick-drying and durable. If you are starting on a small scale, you would want to approach a recycling company and partner with them to make the yarn out of plastic bottles. 

  • Backpacks/Bags 

Another way to use the fibres from plastic bottles is to make backpacks or bags. PET bottles can be collected, separated by colour, then crushed into small pieces and washed. Once they have been crushed, they become polyester chips or flakes, which are melted and stretched to make yarn. This yarn is then dyed and spun to make the bags. The advantage of bags made out of this material is that they are lightweight and can be folded into small packages and carried around easily.  

  • Brooms 

To make one broom, you need about 30 one-litre bottles. These can be sliced into thin strips, stiffened and stuck together by a hot-air gun and then attached to bamboo or wooden handles. It’s an easy way to make a household cleaning tool that you will always have a market for. This project is simple, and the work can be done without the use of any heavy machinery. It could also work as a community project that involves creating jobs for nearby underprivileged communities. This inspirational story from India is one such example.