A t-shirt made entirely from recycled plastic bottles – billed as a world first – made its debut at the CES2021 virtual show this week.
The shirt is made by Novoleap (Koup) which is on a mission to create more eco-friendly products and “change the status quo”. It is infused with cinnamon extract as a natural antimicrobial replacement for toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
Koup co-founder Brian Chuang says his background in textiles prompted him to search for eco-friendly textile technologies that can make a difference.
“After months of R&D and market searching, I came across this novel, anti-microbial textile technology based on cinnamon,” Chuang said.
Cinnamon has been used since ancient Egyptian times as a natural preservative. It contains a natural compound called cinnamaldehyde, which has natural antimicrobial properties and is widely used in products such as toothpaste and chewing gum.
“Sweat itself does not carry odour. It is actually the bacteria on your skin (such as staphylococcus aureus) that produce odour as they feed on sweat,” explains Chuang.
“The way cinnamon works is that it inhibits the growth of sweat-eating bacteria. Thus, odour is not produced, keeping you smelling fresh.”
Designed for travellers, the cinnamon t-shirt is lightweight (30 per cent lighter than an average cotton t-shirt) and ultra-packable (smaller than rolled socks).
“The natural anti-odour and quick-dry performance features mean you can bring this as the only t-shirt on your trip, which further reduces your gear. Also, the moisture-wicking property means the t-shirt keeps you dry and comfortable when you are on the go and its thermal characteristics help regulate your body temperature,” he said.
However, if you’re hoping the shirt will emit the scent of cinnamon, you’ll be disappointed. “Unfortunately, our t-shirt doesn’t smell of cinnamon. The aroma we love evaporates during the yarn making process,” Chuang says.
Green is the new black
Made from 100 per cent recycled polyester Koup t-shirts are recyclable. They contain no spandex or blends such as polyester cotton, which makes recycling difficult.
“We chose recycled plastic bottles as our core material so we could help reduce the impact of single-use plastic. It is estimated that over 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away in the US alone every year. However, only about 25 per cent of this is recycled,” Chuang said.
“By using 100-per-ent recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic, we are keeping plastic wastes from going into landfills or becoming ocean plastic. Moreover, recycled polyester can save up to 58 per cent in energy costs and 45 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Koup t-shirt is machine washable and can be tumble dried at low temperature. But, as Koup is all in for sustainability and energy-saving and its t-shirt dries pretty fast, hand washing and clothesline drying is recommended for maximum environmental friendliness and maximum wear.
Chuang worked in the performance textile industry for nearly 10 years and has seen first hand the harmful impacts on the planet of the chemicals that are used to enhance textile performance such as making textiles anti-microbial and water repellent.
“We believe in the circular economy model, and the way forward is to reuse, recycle, and reduce,” Chuang said.
This is my first time to know about a t-shirt made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Its just unbelievable for me. This is really amazing product made by Novoleap that aims to create a more eco-friendly products and “change the status quo”. I hope that the world will love and adopt this kind of products to help in protecting our planet.