Monday, March 1st, 2010

Soccer’s Elite to Sport Shirts Made from Plastic Bottles at World Cup

As many of you avid soccer (also known as “football” outside of the U.S.) fans know, the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 11, 2010 in South Africa and will end on July 11. This event is an international competition that is held every four years by members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title. Overall the World Cup is the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world, with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the 2006 final on television. By way of comparison, “only” an estimated 153.4 million viewers watched all or part of this year’s Super Bowl.

This year many of the world’s top soccer players, including Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, will be wearing shirts made of old plastic bottles at the World Cup. Nike said shirts for the nine national teams wearing its gear (which includes Portugal, Holland, the U.S. and one of the favorites Brazil) would be made from polyester recycled from used bottles. Each shirt uses up to eight plastic bottles retrieved from Japanese and Taiwanese landfill sites. Nike’s fabric suppliers were able to take the plastic bottles and melt them down to produce new yarn that was ultimately converted to fabric for jerseys. The shirts will keep players drier and cooler than previous kits while reducing energy consumption in manufacture by 30% compared to normal polyester. Manufacture of the shirts, which will also be sold to fans, used 13 million plastic bottles – enough to fill 29 football pitches.

Nike isn’t the only company to manufacture shirts out of plastic bottles. Coca-Cola’s Drink2Wear shirts are also made out of recycled bottles, and Patagonia started manufacturing fleece out of post-consumer bottles in 1993 with little fanfare. (Previously we have blogged about Wyndham Hotels’ initiative to institute polyester employee uniforms derived from post-consumer products.) By featuring this technology at a major sporting event watched by millions, Nike is letting the world know that the technology is worth our attention. I couldn’t agree more

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