On display at the largest advanced manufacturing event to hit the East Coast next month is a wedding gown made of recycled plastic packaging. More than 11,000 packaging and manufacturing professionals are expected to touch down in the Big Apple to see more than 2,000 exhibitors at PLASTEC East and its co-located automation and manufacturing shows: MD&M East, Automation Technology East, Design & Manufacturing Atlantic, EastPack, Quality Expo, and HBA Global. Here they will have the opportunity to witness the latest in packaging innovation and creation starting with Bella the Bride’s plastic wedding dress.
Artist and environmental educator Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway creates couture fashion from trash as an innovative way to provide education about conservation. She was commissioned to create a new sculpture called “Bella” by Beacon Converters, a company located in New Jersey that creates sterilization packaging for the healthcare industry.
According to Judd’s website, Tyvek is made from 100% high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and can be recycled into products that resist insects, rot and other chemicals, such as plastic lumber, indoor and outdoor furniture, garden products, automotive parts, underground cable protection, piping, packaging cores, trays etc. Polyethylene can normally be recycled four to five times before its physical properties are substantially affected. When it comes to recycling flexible packaging in general however, it can be difficult to recycle products with multiple layers. In the case of medical grade Tyvek pouches, also called sterilization pouches or bags, heat is used to adhere the Tyvek to other materials and once the product is peeled apart, the Tyvek can be sent to the HDPE recycle stream, as a single source material.
Bella's wedding dress, which took approximately 225 hours to create, will be front and center in the Crystal Palace of the Javits Convention Center, showing off the importance of recycling discarded waste, specifically healthcare packaging, which could otherwise end up in the landfills. Bella's pure white gown is pieced and sewn out of discarded Tyvek, a clean, flexible, white plastic, sterilizable material, widely used in medical device packaging. You might also commonly associate it with new building construction. Tyvek was chosen because of its ability to be recycled or recovered for repurposing.
Because the recycled plastic material looks like paper or in certain applications, like satin fabric, a wedding gown seemed like the perfect idea to showcase the beautiful material.
The flowers on the dress were also made from Tyvek by Beacon Converter employees in New Jersey and then shipped to Judd’s studio in Portland, Oregon. The sculpture will eventually have additional flowers attached to the train. Bella is set to to travel to various healthcare industry conferences where Beacon Converters will engage conference attendees in creating more flowers.
Beacon Converters is a member of the Flexible Packaging Association and a sponsor of Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the Operating Room initiative.