Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
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Plastic Hotel Sheets and a Dress Made from Beer … the Latest in Sustainable Textiles

This week, W Hotels Worldwide, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, became the latest company to jump on the plastic-waste-to-fabric train when it announced a new partnership with global music artist and entrepreneur will.i.am and The Coca-Cola Company, to bring the **EKOCYCLE**™ brand to W Hotel rooms around the world.

W Hotels will soon begin re-making their beds with the new EKOCYCLE-branded sheets, which are made in part with rPET (polyester partially made using recycled plastic). The new sheets will roll out in North American W Hotels first and then move into global locations.

The hotel chain says each king size sheet set utilizes approximately 31 recycled 20-oz. plastic bottles – which equates to more than 268,000 plastic bottles diverted across all W Hotel beds in North America. The resulting bedding is luxurious, maintaining the quality guests expect from W Hotel beds. The more sustainable sheets are made using the same process as the W brand’s current bedding, only now it will use recycled instead of new polyester.

“The EKOCYCLE™ brand mission is to excite and inspire people around the idea that waste can be valuable and create new, desirable products. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has been a like-minded innovator of sustainable solutions and longtime partner of Coca-Cola. We’re delighted that W Hotels is joining the EKOCYCLE™ movement and providing hotel guests worldwide with the opportunity to experience sustainable luxury with EKOCYCLE™ brand sheets,” said Bea Perez, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at The Coca-Cola Company.

Enough with the plastic waste, already!

We can do better! Hear from TerraCycle, L'Oréal, Lonely Whale, Returnity and dozens of other innovators creating breakthrough solutions in materials and packaging at SB'19 Detroit, June 3-6.

But the EKOCYCLE team didn’t stop with sheets. To recycle even more plastic, they created a colorful bedtime companion, the “Mobile Charger and Accessory Valet” (MCAV) - a multi-tasking USB charging device that also acts as a jewelry/watch stand and an alarm clock. Developed by Miniwiz, an emerging engineering firm from Taipei focused exclusively on post-consumer recycled material design applications, the MCAV is partially created out of three recycled plastic bottles and is available in six colors, including gold, red, hot pink, black, white and silver. The devices will soon be bedside in every W Hotel room around the world.

“I am very excited to bring the EKOCYCLE™ movement to W Hotel guests around the world,” will.i.am said. “When it comes to finding partners for the EKOCYCLE™ initiative, Coca-Cola and I want to work with those who understand our message: that being more sustainable can be stylish. The new EKOCYCLE™ sheets and chargers that will now be at W are further proof that we can transform so much of the way we live through more sustainable, recycled materials.”

We’ve heard a lot about plastic being turned into fabric, but beer? Well, a scientist-designer team at Australian company Nanollose, which specializes in the development of alternative textiles, recently revealed the Beer Dress, a garment made through a bacterial fermentation process. Scientist Gary Cass and visual artist Donna Franklin have experience making unconventional fabrics; their 2012 fermented-wine dress was a similar bio-material feat, though less wearable.

"Unlike the wine dresses, the new Beer Dress has no smell and greatly improved flexibility, with fibers that are chemically similar to cotton," reads a press release. Cass hopes the advancements will make the material, called Nanollose Microbial Cellulose, commercially viable.

The fermentation process can be used to grow a seamless one-piece garment. Cass is working on improving both the strength and flexibility of the Nanollose fabric and would like to see it become an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of agriculture-intensive fabrics such as cotton.

The Beer Dress, whose design was inspired by the hop plant, will be on display at the World Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy. If Cass and Franklin succeed in turning Nanollose into a viable material, then we may at some point be able to both drink and wear our favorite beer.

The circular fabric economy continues to gain traction: Textile upcycler Worn Again joined forces this month with H&M and Kering to test and scale a first-of-its-kind textile-to-textile chemical recycling technology that is able to separate and extract polyester and cotton from old or end-of-use clothing and textiles. Once separated, the aim is for this unique process to enable the ‘recaptured’ polyester and cellulose from cotton to be spun into new fabric, creating a circular resource model for textiles.

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