Takeout boxes deliver once more as quick-dry sportswear

Tan Weiyun
A groundbreaking project in Songjiang between Donghua University and the Meituan Qingshan Technology Fund recycles takeout box material to become low-carbon polypropylene fabric.
Tan Weiyun
Takeout boxes deliver once more as quick-dry sportswear

The quick-dry sportswear transformed from takeout boxes

A groundbreaking achievement unfolded in Songjiang as recycled takeout box material was successfully transformed into low-carbon polypropylene fabric.

Developed through a collaboration between Donghua University and the Meituan Qingshan Technology Fund, this innovation converts discarded takeout boxes into quick-dry sportswear.

The breakthrough technology not only provides a high-value recycling scenario for takeout boxes but also opens up new possibilities for recycled plastic products.

A seemingly ordinary black polo shirt was crafted from ultra-fine polypropylene fibers obtained through the processing and modification of discarded takeout boxes.

The sportswear, containing 30 percent fine polypropylene fibers, boasts a dry and skin-friendly feel, earning praise from wearers who found it non-sticky even after they sweated.

"With the rise of efficient and convenient food delivery becoming a daily norm, takeout boxes have inadvertently burdened the environment, as about 1 million tons of discarded takeout boxes enter the environment each year," said Dr. Ma Yichun from Donghua University's School of Materials Science and Engineering, who is also the team leader of the project.

"So we were wondering whether polypropylene-made takeout boxes could be recycled into regenerated polypropylene fabric," Ma said. After several validations confirming the feasibility of the technology, the team invited major companies to join the collaborative development, initiating over a year of research.

The "rebirth" of takeout boxes involves complex production processes. Overcoming challenges in deodorization, spinning, fabric production and many others, they successfully established the technical route of "slicing - granulation - drawing - weaving - clothing."

A third-party technology company conducted carbon accounting, revealing a 73 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to native materials.

"The project's results, empowered by innovative technological processes, achieved a breakthrough. In the future, we hope to collaborate with more projects like this, truly utilizing technology as an engine to achieve a better life and a more beautiful environment," said Tian Jin, project director of Meituan Qingshan.

Special Reports