Today, we can find that almost half of manufactured clothing is made of polyester. What seems to be the reason behind this? Well, perhaps one of the major reasons behind this is the athleisure trend. A lot of people are now looking for garments that are more resistant and more stretchable. It is fine; however, the problem is, using polyester on clothing is not a sustainable option. That is why Textile Exchange, a non-profit organization, challenged these clothing companies to produce more recycled polyester activewear products. And it worked. The organization made a statement that they have exceeded their goal by 36%. The organization further predicted that 20% of all polyester would be recycled by 2030.
Recycled polyester, also referred to as rPET, can be achieved by melting down plastic bottles and turning them into new polyester fibre. For instance, producing one extra-large T-shirt requires five soda bottles.
Advantages of Using Recycled Polyester
Prevent the Plastics from Ending Up in the Ocean or Landfill
Recycled polyester offers an alternative way of using non-biodegradable materials that would likely end up in the ocean or landfill. According to Ocean Conservancy, a non-government organization, almost 8 million metric tons of plastic are discovered in the ocean each year, in addition to about 150 million metric tons of plastic that are presently circulating in marine environments. If this practice will continue, it is predicted that by 2050, more plastic will fill the ocean than fish. Furthermore, plastic has been discovered in almost 100% of all sea turtle species and 60% of all seabirds because they thought plastic is food.
With regards to the landfill, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, almost 26 million tons of plastic ended up in landfills in 2015. It is also the same estimated amount that the EU has reported. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest problems is clothes. Based on the UK report, an estimated 140 million pounds worth of clothes are dumped in landfills every year.
Recycled Polyester is Comparable to Virgin Polyester
Recycled polyester is almost equivalent to virgin polyester, but the good thing is, it only requires fewer resources. It has the same quality, yet recycled polyester uses 59% less energy than virgin polyester. It is also estimated that recycled polyester production can decrease the emission of CO2 by 32% compared to normal polyester. By assessing the life cycle, it is obvious that recycled polyester activewear is much better than virgin polyester.
Using Recycled Polyester is Environmentally Friendly
The use of recycled polyester can reduce the use of crude oil and natural gas to produce plastic. According to Patagonia, an outdoor brand, using recycled polyester can reduce the dependence of using crude oil as one source of raw materials. Patagonia is well known for using soda bottles, worn-out clothes, and manufacturing waste in making fleece. Using recycled polyester can help in extending the life of landfills and minimizing the toxic discharges from incinerators. Additionally, it also introduces new recycling methods for worn-out polyester clothing.
According to Nau, an American apparel brand, since polyester comprises almost 60% of the world’s production, which is twice as much as the plastic bottles used, developing non-virgin polyester can create a big impact on global energy and resources. Nau is best known for encouraging the use of sustainable fabric options.
Using recycled polyester has a lot of benefits. It is beneficial both for the environment and for the economy of the country.