Giving Plastic Bottles a Second Chance

DGrade

12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 15. Life on Land

Overview

DGrade is a producer of high quality Greenspun™ yarn made from recycled plastic water bottles, consisting on a green alternative to polyester. The company produces eco-clothing and accessories made from recycled PET through a process that barely harms the environment compared to the production of polyester from scratch.

The company also uses its product to work with corporate clients (airlines, recycling companies, well known brands, schools, etc.) to define their needs, design and manufacture according to their specifications.

This way, the innovation provided by DGrade brings benefits regarding Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Change, and Life on Land.

Author

Francisco Jorge

Francisco Jorge

School

IPMI International Business School

IPMI International Business School

Professor

Amelia Naim Indrajaya

Amelia Naim Indrajaya

Innovation

DGrade offers an environmentally friendly alternative to polyester and provides a closed-loop supply chain, using recycled plastic bottles to make eco-friendly products. The type of plastic used for the process of recycling it into yarn is Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known as PET1 or PET. It is best known as the clear plastic used for water and soda bottle containers. As a raw material, PET is defined as a safe, non-toxic, strong, lightweight and flexible material that is 100% recyclable. Although clear PET is preferred for the manufacturing process, DGrade can also use blue PET1 plastic.

The process is conducted in several steps: the plastic bottles are collected, sorted, compacted, bailed, washed and then shredded into flakes. The plastic flakes are heated and melted to produce both long and short fibers for yarn production. This yarn can be woven or knitted in the same way as conventional fabric, thus helping to create a sustainable system for recycling waste back into everyday products, such as clothing and accessories.

DGrade business and innovation are also contributing for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 12, 13 and 15. First of all, the concept of Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) is taken into consideration by the company mostly because the production process used promotes resource and energy efficiency compared to polyester production. Second, DGrade’s efforts towards Climate Action (SDG 13) are clearly seen, as the process of recycling thousands and thousands of plastic bottles and producing clothes out of it doesn’t use any oil, which is a finite resource that doesn’t last forever. Finally, this innovation is also contributing for a better Life on Land (SDG 15) and for the need to end and reverse land degradation and stop biodiversity loss because, by recycling thousands of plastic bottles, DGrade is aware that the production and consumption of plastic bottles in the UAE are extremely high and that issue has a huge negative impact on the habitat and health of the camels in the country.

Giving Plastic Bottles a Second Chance

Inspiration

Since the beginning of its existence, DGrade’s vision is to eliminate plastic pollution and provide sustainable solutions by producing consumer and corporate items made from a high-quality alternative of polyester.

DGrade felt the need to focus on recycling plastic considering the serious and alarming environmental problems in the world, especially in the UAE:

• The UAE has the fourth highest consumption rates of bottled water per person in the world, averaging to 275 bottles per person per year.

• More than 3 billion plastic water bottles are produced every year in the UAE but less than 6% are recycled.

• 50% of camels die in the UAE due to plastic ingestion.

• It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose in the landfill.

• 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space is saved for every ton of plastic that is recycled.

• Plastic bottles are made from oil, which a finite resource

• It takes two-thirds less energy to make products from recycled plastic compared to virgin polyester.

D-Grade founder Kris Barber stated: “It came to my attention some time ago that the plastic found in ordinary drinking water bottles is the same polymer as that used in the manufacturing of polyester. I teamed up with partners in the UK and began developing clothing collections using a process of extruding plastic into fiber and spinning high quality yarns.”

“We know that the UAE has one of the highest consumptions of bottled water per capita in the world and it is our aim to capture this plastic before it gets into landfill. The issues we are facing are more about recovery rates and recovering uncontaminated feedstock and that is about educating the consumer to segregate their waste efficiently.”

Overall impact

The overall impact of the innovation is mainly translated into the environmental benefits it creates. DGrade’s manufacturing process to recycle plastic bottles into yarn has a very positive impact for the environment, with several benefits that can be seen and measured.

DGrade guarantees that each stage of production and manufacture has been socially and ethically audited, as well as certified according to environmental standards. DGrade also makes sure that the manufacturing process is conducted in factories with Fair Trade Policies and WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified that all the waste resulting from the process of production is recycled as well.

The effects of their innovation are mainly due to the fact that producing yarn from recycled plastic bottles helps drastically reducing harm for the environment compared to the production of polyester from scratch.

Therefore, at the end of the day, the process of creating PET plastic bottles suitable for yarn production uses 50% less energy than to produce virgin polyester, 20% less water, releases 55% fewer carbon emissions and, most important, doesn’t use oil, thus saving a finite resource.

Business benefit

In DGrade, all employees work for the same goal, which is exactly the main idea in which the company was founded. Every day, people in the company give their contribution to continually eliminate plastic in UAE and, at the same time, provide sustainable products and solutions by producing personal and corporate items made from a green and high quality alternative to polyester.

Social and environmental benefit

By doing its business, DGrade already plays a big role in increasing consumer awareness for the need to recycle plastic. However, apart from that, the company is active in doing campaigns to promote recycling and it´s benefits to the society.

One of the examples is “Simply Bottles”, a plastic bottle recycling campaign working with businesses, schools, non-profit entities and consumers with the main purpose of increasing the recycling of water bottles across the United Arab Emirates. The objective is to create awareness and educate about plastic waste and recycling, by providing participants with a practical solution to plastic collection for recycling.

By conducting these types of campaigns, DGrade aims to be joined by the society in facing the issue of plastic pollution.

Interview

Joanna Colaco, Marketing Assistant

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DGrade

DGrade

Dubai, Dubai, AE

Business Website: www.dgrade.com

Year Founded: 2010

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

In a world where plastic is increasingly a threat to the Environment, the raised awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution and the benefits of recycling led to a bigger demand for green products and brands. DGrade provides a sustainable closed-loop supply chain from design to production and develops eco-friendly products using recycled plastic bottles, that reduce environmental impact.