Why we don’t use recycled plastic.
We at Nordlicht have always relied on natural products and take a critical view of the use of plastic & polyester. Because plastic is bad for you and bad for our environment. Here’s why we don’t use recycled plastic – and for good reason.
Plastic is everywhere, especially in our clothes. Garments made of polyester, nylon and acrylic are all made of plastic. Not only are these fibers harmful because they are made from fossil fuels, but they also release microplastics into our environment. Microplastics enter our bodies via groundwater and are suspected of being carcinogenic.
About 70 percent of the garments produced contain plastic microfibers, and clothing is responsible for a third of all microplastic pollution. With each wash of polyester, microplastics are released into our water.
The fashion industry is now promising: We have a solution – products made of recycled plastic.
Supposedly, the plastic even comes from the ocean and thus directly protects our environment. Are we really making the world a better place when we buy products made from recycled plastic? After all, about ten million tons of plastic waste sink into our oceans every year and UN environmental experts warn that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans of our planet.
Still, recycled plastic is sold as something far more sustainable than it actually is, and brands often market their products made from recycled plastic (or even just a portion of the products) as an eco-friendly purchase, though it isn’t.
What does marine plastic mean?
When you hear marine plastic, it is suggested that the sea is being rid of plastic. The problem, however, is that the plastic that is added to so-called “marine plastic” products is only Ocean Bound plastic.
So plastic on land that “could” get into the sea. Marine plastic, which has been floating around in the sea for a long time, is not collected at all. The high degree of contamination, the varietal impurity and the poor condition of plastic waste from the sea do not allow recycling – at least to yarn.
Here we come to the next point, PET bottles.
Main ingredient PET bottles
Another problem, most recycled plastics come from PET bottles, which are part of a closed recycling system where they can be recycled at least 10 times efficiently. Fashion turns it into a linear system, because most of these garments are not recycled or cannot be recycled, which further accelerates pollution.
Microplastics in your body
Recycled plastic is not a solution to the microplastic problem. During the recycling process, the plastic material is intensively washed and crushed. In this way, a large proportion of microplastics end up in the groundwater and are blown away into nature around the recycling factory. Whether it’s new or recycled plastic, our rivers and oceans continue to be polluted by microplastic fibers released every time they are washed.
Another point is the quality. Used plastic may contain plasticizers or other pollutants, which are then processed in the new product. You would have to test each product individually for harmful substances, which is not possible in reality.
Products made of recycled plastic can no longer be recycled, but must be incinerated. It would be truly sustainable in the sense of the circular economy if recycled PET fibers from textiles could be processed back into new textiles. But as soon as a fabric is no longer 100 percent polyester and thus becomes a mixed fabric, this makes mechanical recycling extremely difficult – or even impossible.
The possibility of linear recycling as clothing or backpack is countered by the possibility of recycling PET bottles several times into new bottles. Therefore, recycled plastic unfortunately cannot be a sustainable solution. We wish it was that easy! Only when these garments can be recycled again in a closed loop and do not end up in a landfill do they make a big leap towards more sustainability.
But what is the solution?
In general, we should stop using plastic. In addition, products with true recyclability are real progress. However, products that can be used materially again, a so-called fiber-to-fiber recycling, has hardly taken place so far. At Nordlicht we are increasingly focusing on recycled cotton. Again, it is necessary to add new cotton, but we use 100% certified organic cotton. It is produced under strict ecological conditions – without chemical fertilizers, without pesticides and with a lower water consumption than with conventional cultivation methods. Genetic engineering is also taboo. Because we want you to feel good with our product.to the sustainable products