Polyester and Recycled Polyester


PET Plastics –

PET plastics are also known as Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE). These plastics are usually beverage bottles (i.e. water, soda, and fruit juice bottles). According to the EPA, plastic accounts for 12% of the total amount of waste we produce. Recycling plastic reduces air, water, and ground pollution. Recycling is only the first step; investing and purchasing products manufactured from recycled materials is the next of many steps to living sustainably.

Clothing can be made from plastics. Seventy percent of plastic-derived fabrics come from polyester, and the type of polyester most used in fabrics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET plastic clothing come from reused plastics, often recycled plastic bottles. The Coca Cola Company, for example, created a “Drink2Wear” line of T-shirts made from recycled bottles. Generally, PET plastic clothing are made from recycled bottles as follows: plastic bottles are collected, compressed, baled, and shipped into processing facilities where they will be chopped into flakes, and melted into small white pellets. Then, the pellets are processed again, and spun into yarn-like fiber where it can be made into clothing. One main benefit of making clothes from recycled bottles is that it keep the bottles and other plastics from occupying landfill space. Another benefit is that it takes 30% less energy to make clothes from recycled plastics than from virgin polyesters.


Recycled polyester & Traditional Polyester –

First developed in a lab in the 1940s, polyester is one of the world’s most widely used fibres. But unfortunately, polyester is made from a non-renewable resource. That’s why companies such as H&M have been using recycled polyester for some years now. The main source of recycled polyester is PET plastic bottles and waste raw material left over from production.

H&M’s use of recycled polyester in 2012 rescued the equivalent 7.9 million plastic bottles from the landfill.

Benefits of recycled polyester:

  • Saves natural resources
  • Saves energy in production process
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions and use of chemicals

While synthetic clothing in general is perceived by many as having a less natural feel compared to fabrics woven from natural fibers (such as cotton and wool), polyester fabrics can provide specific advantages over natural fabrics, such as improved wrinkle resistance, durability and high color retention. As a result, polyester fibers are sometimes spun together with natural fibers to produce a cloth with blended properties. Synthetic fibers also can create materials with superior water, wind and environmental resistance compared to plant-derived fibers.

A polyester garment can be worn many times and then washed in cold water and air-dried. It doesn’t need ironing, doesn’t pill, and doesn’t abrade easily.

While polyester does not biodegrade, at the end of its use phase it can actually be recycled to near-virgin or virgin-like quality (something which cannot be said of natural fibers). Issey Miyake’s recent collaboration with the Japanese chemical company Teijin, which developed specialized equipment to revert used polyester back to its original source material of dimethyl terephthalate, demonstrates just how beautiful recycled polyester can be.





Polyester from Recycled PET plastic bottles –

The video below shows the process of transforming used, discarded plastic bottles into fashion.


The reason recycled polyester (often written rPET) is considered a green option in textiles today is twofold, and the argument goes like this:

  1. energy needed to make the rPET is less than what was needed to make the virgin polyester in the first place, so we save energy.
  2. And  we’re keeping bottles and other plastics out of the landfills.

The water used in recycled polyester production is only a fraction of what is required in cotton growing. Water is not an input in the recycling process. It is mainly used to clean the shredded pieces of plastic and to remove the dirt and debris.

Recycled polyester is soft and durable. It is wrinkle – shrink – stain resistant. Its benefits include:
–         less soil, water and air contamination;
–         less dependence on oil used in the production of original polyester;
–         millions of plastic bottles saved from the landfill daily and less emissions from incinerators.

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 14.55.30





My views –

  • Limits jobs for workers as process is mainly by machinery however, addresses a lot of key issues in sustainability.
  • Less CO2 emissions than conventional polyester and cotton.
  • No need for a lot of land only need room for a factory.
  • Takes plastic out of the landfills
  • Less soil, water and air contamination than Cotton and Hemp.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions and use of chemicals makes it more ethical and sustainable.
  • Not too expensive to create.
  • A polyester garment can be worn many times and then washed in cold water and air-dried. It doesn’t need ironing, doesn’t pill, and doesn’t abrade easily. Therefore reduces emissions once purchased.
  • A great fabric choice for garments.

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