Recycling charity RECOUP has linked up with Norfolk Waste Partnership to prove recycling is in fashion through a programme showing how clothing can be made from recycled plastic bottles.

With support from retailer Marks and Spencer and packaging manufacturer RPC Group, RECOUP and Norfolk Waste Partnership ran a Fashion Design Challenge throughout April 2018 as part of Recycle for Norfolk’s ‘Putting Recycled Plastic on the Catwalk!’ campaign. Students from schools and colleges across the region were challenged to show off their creativity and design fashionable garments that could be made out of polyester from recycled PET bottles.

Nine finalists were then selected from among the best designs and awarded textiles with which to make their garments, before showcasing them on Saturday 9 June as part of the One Planet Norwich Festival, held at The Forum in Norwich town centre.

Commenting on the design challenge, David Baker, Industry Affairs Director at RPC Group, said: “We are delighted to be able to be involved with this project which highlights the versatility of plastic and the wide range of applications in which it can be used when it is recycled. Through recycling the consumer can give our industry the opportunity to reuse this valuable resource”.

Emily Bridges, one of the finalists, added: “When I got the call to say my design had been selected I was over the moon. I’m passionate about good fashion design and the environment so I’m really looking forward to showing my finished dress. This is a great opportunity to showcase plastic recycling and fashion together.”

RECOUP, along with representatives from each of the local authorities in the Norfolk Waste Partnership, has also been taking a roadshow across the county as part of its ‘Cut the Confusion’ campaign, which aims to answer common questions about plastics recycling and underline the importance of keeping waste plastics clean, dry and loose in their recycling bins to reduce contamination.

The roadshow took in Cromer, Diss, Thetford, Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn and Norwich to answer questions from householders on kerbside recycling. People were challenged to put their recycling knowledge to the test and prove they know which bin is correct for different types of plastic packaging, while RECOUP plastics experts were also on hand to demonstrate how plastics packaging is recycled and to highlight that recycled plastic is already present in our high streets.

Anne Hitch, Communications Manager at RECOUP, commented: “Talking to members of the public and discussing the reasons for their confusion has highlighted some key themes. There have been identifiable trends of everyday plastic packaging that Norfolk consumers remain unsure of, whether to place for recycling and how it should best be presented. The ‘Cutting the Confusion’ campaign has certainly helped to reduce that uncertainty.”

Stuart Foster, RECOUP CEO, added: “RECOUP’s mission is to explain to people how easy it is to recycle plastic containers, so they never become a blight on the natural environment. It’s important people know what happens to their plastic and that it is made into new bottles, trays and cartons or indeed other items such as fabric. This project provides a great opportunity to reduce confusion householders may have when recycling plastics and to ensure that the resource is recycled and does not end up as litter”.

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