Giving PET bottles a new life as high-performance acoustic tiles

  •   1 November 2017

Fishing nets to carpets, wine corks to wall tiles, mushrooms to grow bricks – to say the building industry is truly beginning to embrace sustainability in their design, manufacturing and testing is an understatement.

One Australian company who has really changed the game with ‘upcycling’ is Woven Image.  The textile and interior finishes supplier was the first to pioneer the creation of high-performance textiles using recyclable materials in the late 90s. Sustainability continues to be embedded in its DNA today.

The manufacturing process for its acoustic tiles is particularly innovative, and begins with the collection of recyclable, PET-made, single-use soft drink and detergent bottles from consumers. The result is a product that boasts a minimum ten-year life expectancy.

After the contaminants, like lids and sticky labels, are removed, the bottles are chopped into tiny pellets, which are washed and sanitised. These pellets are fed into a hopper along with colour. A heater at the base of the hopper melts the pellets to form a free-flowing resin.

“Resin is pumped through a sophisticated shower-rose device, known as a spinneret,” Woven Image continues. “Cold air fans set the fine fibres extruded from the spinneret [and these] fibres are drawn, cut and blended into a web.”

This web is finally compressed and cut, ready for use in commercial interiors, including offices, hotels, restaurants, airports and theatres.

On top of its recycling initiatives, all of Woven Image’s acoustic tiles emit low VOCs and have achieved Gold Green Tag Certification and a Gold Streamlined LCA rating. In the 2016/17 financial year, across its product portfolio, Woven Image diverted close to 13 million one-litre PET bottles from landfill. This takes the company’s total figure to approximately 94 million bottles since EchoPanel’s launch in 2004.

However, their environmentally friendly credentials have not compromised on sound absorption performance or aesthetics. For example, the company’s collection, Balance, combines a 0.85 NRC rating with an elegant, designer surface finish. Consisting of three proportionally sized tile products in nine colourways, Balance is made from the award-winning EchoPanel® in 24mm thickness.

Woven Image’s acoustic tiles also come in myriad colour options and finishes, and are easy to install. New to the family are Direction, Plus, Kaleidoscope, Block and Groove 45 & 90 acoustic tile ranges. They consist of lightweight, Peel ‘n’ Stick tile packs, which use a Pressure Sensitive Adhesive to stick to most surfaces. Meanwhile, the three-dimensional Wave & Dune tiles employ a sophisticated clip system to install a desired configuration.


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