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Taiwan Eco-company Takes Lead in PET to Textiles Recycling Systems

Taipei's DA.AI Technology pioneers innovative process for reinventing used PET bottles as consumer fabrics.

Photo: DA.AI Technology’s award-winning eco-friendly product range.
DA.AI Technology's award-winning eco-friendly product range.
Photo: DA.AI Technology’s award-winning eco-friendly product range.
DA.AI Technology's award-winning eco-friendly product range.

Bolstered by international and local environmental concerns, the ecotechnology sector has boomed over recent years. In Taiwan, this has seen one award-winning company – DA.AI Technology – pioneer a new process that can recycle used polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into textiles and fabric products.

The company's system allows these PET bottles – items known for their detrimental effect on the environment – to be transformed into a variety of textiles products and then resold to green-minded consumers across the territory. One of these recycled products is a new-generation compression fabric, said to be ideal for use in shapewear. The material is also said to have a number of medical applications, most notably in the treatment of burns victims.

DA.AI Technology was established by the Tzu Chi International Humanitarian Aid Association (TIHAA) in 2008. One of the first green social enterprises in Taiwan, the company has focussed on the production of recycled textile raw materials, including polyester pellets and polyester fibre, as well as a range of other eco-friendly fabrics. These are then used in the production of a number of everyday textile items.

Photo: Sourcing recyclable material.
Sourcing recyclable material.
Photo: Sourcing recyclable material.
Sourcing recyclable material.

To date, the company has introduced a range of more than 100 different green products, including yarns, fabrics and garments. At present, its priority is to raise overall product quality, while keeping any negative environmental impact to an absolute minimum.

At present, all of DA.AI's PET source material is collected by Tzu Chi volunteers. It then works with a number of third-party manufacturers on the continuing development of its recycling and production processes. It co-operates across all aspects of textiles production, including upstream, midstream and downstream activities.

As a sign of its high level of production standards, the company has been endorsed by many of the global recycling bodies. It currently complies with all the requirements of the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Mark. Its protocols also align with a number of international standards relating to carbon footprints, water footprints and recycled content, making it one of Taiwan's foremost green textiles companies.

DA.AI has also won the Taiwan Excellence Award for four consecutive years. In 2015 alone, three of its products won a total of 15 awards. Foremost among these was the recognition notched up by two of its solar-powered items – an LED cap and a backpack.

In the case of the cap, solar cells on its peak absorb solar energy, storing it for later use in providing illumination. Users can then choose the option of operating it as a constant light source or setting it to flash mode.

Photo: Peak performance: A solar-powered hat.
Peak performance: A solar-powered hat.
Photo: Peak performance: A solar-powered hat.
Peak performance: A solar-powered hat.
Photo: Bags of energy: DA.AI’s solar backpack.
Bags of energy: DA.AI's solar backpack.
Photo: Bags of energy: DA.AI’s solar backpack.
Bags of energy: DA.AI's solar backpack.

The solar cells on the backpack, meanwhile, allow it to function as a charger for portable computers and smart devices. It has the capacity to hold a 13-inch notebook computer and can be carried on the back or pulled along as required.

According to Sanming Yu, a Director of the Taipei-based business, DA.AI is now looking for partner companies, both with regard to promoting its wider environmental message and to help market its range of eco-friendly goods.

Francess Lin, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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