A Bristol firm that manufactures cycling jerseys from plastic bottles was invited to attend an event at Downing Street last week to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Grn Sportswear also manufactures all of its products in the UK to ensure its clothing is made by people “who get a fair deal."
Grn’s website states that the UK alone produces 14.5bn waste plastic bottles a year and that recycling a tonne of them will save 1.5 tonnes of CO2.
“There are seven bottles that go into making each cycling jersey,” co-founder Pete Lillie told the Bristol Post.
Once the bottles have been cleaned and broken down, they are extruded into a yarn which can then be knitted into a specialist fabric. Light, soft, breathable and quick-drying, it is perfect for sportswear.
For its shorts and tri-suits, the firm also makes use of an Italian circular knitted fabric made from a mix of fishing nets, carpets, fabrics and other waste nylon products.
"Prior to our launch it was difficult, if not impossible, to find sustainable and ethically made sportswear for swimming, running, cycling and triathlon athletes,” said Lillie.
"We decided to offer an alternative; sports clothing that was technically advanced and ethically sourced. Our initial offering was a cycling jersey made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and a range of bamboo T-shirts. We now manufacture a full range of cycling, triathlon and swimming clothing."
Grn and several other UK companies met Stephen Barclay, economic secretary to the Treasury, and Baroness Fairhead CBE, minister of state at the Department for International Trade, to discuss their businesses.
Co-founder Rob Webbon expressed pride at being invited and added: "We are currently looking to raise finance for the company so we can grow the team and increase our capacity. As such, a government-backed finance scheme offering a lower interest rate than typically available on the market would be a real help to small companies in this position."