TORONTO - Most people are familiar with the fact that lots of fleece clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles, but what about a man's two-piece suit that's suitable to wear to the office or on a business trip?
Bagir Group Ltd. makes such a suit, and it's now available in Canada. It can even be thrown into a washing machine while the owner takes comfort from the fact that when it was made, approximately 25 plastic bottles were diverted from landfill sites.
"We really wanted a suit that had all the attributes and the look and the feel of a great suit," says Norm Cooper, president of Grafton Fraser Inc.
The fabric is luxurious and soft, he says, and has fashion appeal.
"And the fact that it is washable or eco-friendly is kind of like the feather in the cap, almost; it's a bonus."
The Eco suit began selling in late October for $199.99 at Tip Top Tailors, while the Travel suit, which also has wool fibres mixed with the polyester derived from the plastic bottles, sells for $299.99.
Bagir has its headquarters in Israel, and Cooper says the suits are manufactured in China.
Joanne Fedyk, executive director of the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, says any product that's created from recycled material still has to do the job.
"It has to be as good as any other product that's made of non-recyclable materials. And then, after that, yeah, there's a lot of people who take great pleasure in that sort of thing," she says, referring to the eco-friendly attributes of the men's suit.
She notes that plastic bottles comprise about two per cent of the waste stream in her province, and are recycled at a rate of about 90 per cent.
The recycled plastic pellets are a popular material for carpets and underlay, she says, and some beverage companies are now aiming to use recycled plastic in their new plastic bottles.
John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestle Waters Canada, says his company recently began a promotional campaign aimed at educating the public about the importance of recycling plastic containers.
The company distributed navy blue windbreakers made of recycled plastic at some promotional events, as well as several hundred thousand shopping bags to doorsteps in the Toronto area - each one made from four plastic bottles.
"Last year, about 60 per cent of the plastic beverage containers produced in Canada were recycled - they were diverted from landfill across the country," Challinor said from the head office in Puslinch, Ont.
"About 40 per cent of those bottles are used to make bottled water," he said, adding that the majority contained soft drinks and juice.
"We are concerned that plastic water bottles or plastic beverage containers aren't all making their way to recycling. At this point, in our view, too many of them are ending up in landfill."
The plastic shopping bag provides information to consumers on how many plastic bottles go into various products.
It takes 19 to produce a square foot of carpet, 63 to make a sweater and 114 to produce enough fibrefill for a sleeping bag.
They're also used for children's playground equipment, mobile phone components, trash bags and cans, mailboxes and baseball caps, he noted.
Perhaps, then, it shouldn't be a surprise that plastic bottles would also make their way into men's suits.
"We thought with what's going on in the economy today, in the world today, we thought it was kind of an interesting twist on a suit ... the fact that you're taking something that people were discarding," says Cooper.