A Lake District based company has launched an innovative high visibility safety vest utilising material created entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
Pogu Ltd., the multi award-winning reflective safety business based in Staveley, have spent much of the past year working closely with suppliers to create the high visibility waistcoats, a product which is a world first in the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) market.
Tiffany Solender, Managing Director of Pogu Ltd., explains further: “Like many others, seeing the rise in plastic waste accumulating globally really struck a chord with us and we made a conscious decision to investigate the potential for incorporating more recycled materials in our products.”
This decision was quickly actioned, with Tiffany undertaking lengthy research and identifying manufacturers of fabric made from that perennial throw-away item – the plastic bottle.
“In early 2018 I headed over China to meet with a specialist company who could produce the plastic thread and fluorescent fabric.” says Tiffany. “I was happy that manufacturers could produce the fluorescent material to my specification, but I also wanted to see first-hand their facilities and working conditions: it’s fine making an ethically-sound garment, but not at the expense of employee well-being.”
The resulting fabric has been developed into a new hi-vis waistcoat, each using material that uses up to 8 recycled plastic bottles.
Production samples of Pogu’s PPE vests arrived in the UK in September, complete with the BS EN 471 accreditation ensuring their compliance with the recognised industry standard, with orders now being taking from both UK and international customers.
The lifespan of a typical PPE vest is just 3 years, after which it is recommended that they are replaced due to the materials fading or their reflective properties reducing. The beauty of Pogu’s new products is that they themselves can be recycled instead of being consigned to landfill.
The fluorescent yellow fabric on the vests has a Class 3 of conspicuity, representing the high level of the material visible on the garment.
“Our new vests will perform equally as well than any comparable high-quality product on the market, but with the added bonus that this is a highly sustainable product.”
Available across all sizes – including children’s sizes – Tiffany expects the vests to be of particular interest to industry and organisations wanting to add to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) credentials whilst upholding their commitment to personal safety.“Plastic recycling is more than just a current hot topic, with our collective ‘throwaway culture’ having a detrimental impact both locally and globally. TV programmes like ‘Blue Planet’ helped bring it into more people’s consciousness, but we all need to take action.”
A House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report, “Plastic bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide” states some quite alarming facts to this effect:
- RECOUP (RECycling of Used Plastics Limited) has calculated that UK households use 13 billion plastic bottles a year, including beverage bottles, milk bottles and toiletries bottles.
- Of the 13 billion plastic bottles used each year, 7.7 billion are plastic water bottles.
- Plastic bottles make up 26% of total plastic packaging.
- We use 38.5 million single-use plastic bottles in this country every day.
- The UK recycles 57% of the 13 billion plastic bottles used each year.
“We’re not suggesting for one minute that our high-vis products will make a massive impact on these figures, but we are trying to play our part in helping reduce the plastic legacy.”
As well as being of benefit to businesses, Pogu may also have a market for their new vests closer to home: “Talking with friends and family about the new products has also generated quite a lot of interest, particularly for smaller vests for children to wear on the way to and from school on dark winter mornings and evenings.”