“Committed to the future. Forever!” This motto from the founder family Schmitz inspires drapilux towards attaining sustainability in every step of the production chain. In 2020, the Emsdetten-based company extended its portfolio to include drapilux 104, drapilux 115 and drapilux 131 fabrics that are partly woven from recycled synthetic materials – without compromising the quality standards pursued by drapilux. But how is a top-quality fabric made from a plastic bottle? Lilian Krause from the R&D department describes the production process.
One of the main challenges for the environment is the large volume of plastic being disposed of every day. Recycling and further processing of plastics is a huge contribution towards the battle against environmental pollution. In very close partnership with Trevira GmbH, the manufacturer of threads, drapilux has developed a collection of fabrics that contain a proportion of sustainably produced threads. The plastic used stems from discarded PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.
One night in Bangkok
The parent company of Trevira, Indorama Ventures Limited (IVL) in Bangkok, is responsible for processing the plastic bottles. The numerous PET bottles, which are handed in as part of a deposit return scheme or collected in recycling bins, are perfect for further processing because they are transparent. However, the question remains: how is a recycled bottle turned into sustainable drapilux fabric?
En route to gaining a new life as a drapilux fabric, the bottle lands in a shredding machine, where it is coarsely crushed and separated from any liquid residue. Any remains of labels are then removed in several subsequent wash cycles. These float to the top of the liquid and are collected, so that the clean, transparent and top-quality PET is all that remains.
After having dried in a furnace for several hours, this PET is then melted down and shaped into minute plastic granules, aka ‘chips’. These chips are then ultimately the raw material, which is used to create the recycled thread. It is processed using heat and pressure to become a plastic filament yarn, which Trevira then spins with Trevira CS thread. In this way, the thread maintains its essential quality features: durability, robustness and a flame-retardant effect. Sustainability is achieved by means of the recycled portion as well as due to the end product’s long life cycle.
A new lease of life in Germany
The journey then continues to Emsdetten, where three sustainable fabrics are woven and dyed. This innovative thread is used exclusively for drapilux 115; drapilux 104 and drapilux 131 are produced on the warp of the drapilux 102 classic fabric.
Consequently, the life of a plastic bottle no longer ends in landfill, but rather in hotels, offices, hospitals and on cruise ships. And the journey has also only just begun for drapilux and Trevira: they are now working jointly on developing a thread made of recycled plastic and increasing the degree of it in the material while still meeting the same quality standards. Taking a pioneering role in the manufacture of fabrics using recycled threads, it is important to drapilux that other representatives in the sector are also urged to increase sustainable means of production. After all, environmental conservation is a process that everyone can contribute to.
Lilian Krause has been working as a project manager in the R&D department at Schmitz Textiles since 2018. She looks after projects with external partners as well as new developments. She was the main person responsible for choosing the recycled thread and the joint development with Trevira.
Other exciting posts from the series #good2know
Episode 1 – #good2knowIntelligence woven in – how our fabrics become smart
Episode 2 – drapilux all in one – the all-rounder with USP
Episode 3 – drapilux in its pioneering role – journey of intelligent textiles
Episode 4 – Certification – stringent quality tests for contract textiles
Episode 5 – Increased fire safety during Advent
Episode 6 – What is involved in IMO Certification?
Episode 7– Degree of light transmission – blackout vs dimout
Episode 8 – drapilux bioaktiv: antibacterial due to silver ions