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Eco-fi, formerly known as EcoSpun, is a high-quality, polyester fiber made entirely from recycled plastic pop bottles. The fiber was developed in the U.S. by the company Wellman Inc.

Many different fabrics are made using Eco-fi, including fleece fabrics, which are warm, durable, weather resistant, lightweight, and comfortable. They are very soft to the touch. Eco-fi can also be blended with other fibers, such as wool, cotton, and tencel, for enhanced qualities.

Eco-fi is used mostly for vests, jackets, pants, blanket throws, and accessories. It’s also used in carpets, home furnishings and fiberfill.

Benefits

The Eco-fi process has the capacity to keep almost three billion plastic PET soda bottles out of the world’s landfills each year, saving over 1/2 million barrels of oil and eliminating 400,000 tons of harmful air emissions, which contribute to acid rain, global warming, and smog. The amount of petroleum saved by using post-consumer bottles instead of virgin materials in the manufacturing process annually is enough to supply power to a city the size of Atlanta for an entire year!

Process

One of the most impressive features of Eco-fi is the source of the fiber: recycled plastic (PET) soda pop bottles. The bottles are refined and purified, chopped down, and processed into spun fiber strands. These strands are then knitted and woven into fabric.

  1. The process begins at your local recycling depot, where the plastic pop bottles are sorted and baled for pickup. The plastic is technically called polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
  2. At the processing plant, the caps and labels are removed, and the bottles are then separated by color.
  3. After sterilization, the bottles are crushed and then chopped into flake.
  4. These tiny pieces of flake are poured into large vats, where they are melted and stirred. This produces a thick liquid that’s extruded through shower-head like devices to create fibrous, polyester strands.
  5. The fiber strands are then stretched to produce thinness and strength. The strands are crimped, cut into short pieces, and baled for shipping to clothing manufacturers where the thread is knitted and woven into fabric. Fleece is but one of many fabrics that can be produced using this versatile fiber.

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Fleece garments made from Eco-fi are, chemically and functionally, nearly identical to non-recycled fleeces. Eco-fi delivers a soft, luxurious, color-fast product without depleting the Earth’s natural resources, without herbicides or pesticides and without extensive energy use.

Wellman has won numerous environmental awards for the development of EcoSpun. Recently, Wellman has passed on the manufacturing rights for EcoSpun to Foss Manufacturing. Foss has recently changed the name from EcoSpun to Eco-fi.

Sources

Foss Manufacturing Company, LLC

11 Merrill Industrial Drive · P.O. Box 5000
Hampton, NH 03843-5000 USA
tel: 603-929-6000 · 800-343-3277
fax: 603-929-6190

Carolina Specialty Fabrics

28 N Caldwell Ave
Newton, NC 28658 USA
tel: 828-464-0367
fax: 828-465-5791

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