What is Recycled Polyester Fabric? Is it Really Sustainable?
Recycling polyester filament yarn waste and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle flakes is an important process to reduce waste, conserve resources, and minimize environmental impact. Here's an overview of the recycling processes for both materials:
- Recycling Polyester Filament Yarn Waste:
Polyester filament yarn waste typically comes from textile manufacturing processes or post-consumer textile waste. The recycling process for polyester filament yarn waste involves the following steps:
Collection and Sorting: Collect waste polyester filament yarn from various sources, including textile manufacturers and recycling centers. Sort the waste by color and type to ensure a more efficient recycling process.
Cleaning: Remove any contaminants, such as dirt, oil, or dyes, from the yarn waste. This is typically done through a cleaning and washing process.
Shredding: After cleaning, the yarn waste is shredded into smaller pieces or pellets to facilitate the melting and extrusion process.
Melting and Extrusion: The shredded yarn waste is melted and extruded through a spinneret to create new polyester filament yarn. This process is similar to the production of virgin polyester yarn.
Spinning: The extruded material is spun into yarn, which can be used for various applications, such as textiles, carpets, or industrial materials.
- Recycling PET Bottle Flakes:
PET bottle flakes are obtained from post-consumer PET bottles, such as water bottles and soda bottles. The recycling process for PET bottle flakes is as follows:
Collection and Sorting: Collect used PET bottles from recycling centers or consumers. Sort them based on color and type (clear or colored bottles).
Cleaning and Label Removal: Remove labels, caps, and any contaminants from the bottles. This is typically done using a combination of mechanical and chemical processes.
Shredding: The cleaned bottles are shredded into small flakes. These flakes are then thoroughly washed and dried to remove any remaining impurities.
Melting and Purification: The PET flakes are melted, and any remaining contaminants, such as glue or other plastics, are filtered out. This purification step is crucial for producing high-quality recycled PET.
Extrusion: The purified PET is extruded into thin strands, which can be cut into small pellets.
Reprocessing: These pellets can be used as a raw material for various applications, including the production of new PET bottles, polyester fibers for textiles, or other PET-based products.
Benefits of Recycling Polyester Filament Yarn Waste and PET Bottle Flakes:
Resource Conservation: Recycling reduces the demand for virgin materials, conserving natural resources like petroleum, which is the primary source of polyester and PET production.
Energy Savings: The energy required to recycle polyester and PET is generally lower than that needed for producing new materials from scratch.
Reduced Environmental Impact: Recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and landfill waste associated with polyester and PET disposal.
Economic Opportunities: Recycling creates jobs in collection, sorting, processing, and manufacturing, contributing to local economies.
Closed-Loop Systems: In some cases, recycled materials can be integrated into closed-loop systems, where products are designed for easy recycling, further reducing waste and environmental impact.
Recycling polyester filament yarn waste and PET bottle flakes is an essential part of sustainable materials management, promoting the circular economy and reducing the environmental footprint of these widely used materials.
Many prominent clothing brands and retailers were incorporating recycled polyester into their apparel collections as part of their sustainability initiatives.
Patagonia: Patagonia has been a pioneer in sustainable and eco-friendly outdoor clothing. They have a "Recycled Polyester" collection that includes various garments made from recycled materials.
The North Face: This outdoor clothing and equipment brand has been incorporating recycled polyester into many of its products, including jackets and fleece.
Adidas: Adidas has been using recycled polyester in its sportswear and athletic apparel, such as shoes, shirts, and leggings.
Nike: Nike has introduced various lines of clothing and shoes that feature recycled polyester as part of their Move to Zero initiative.
H&M: The fast-fashion giant H&M has made efforts to increase the use of sustainable materials, including recycled polyester, in its clothing collections.
Eileen Fisher: This sustainable fashion brand is known for its commitment to eco-friendly materials, including recycled polyester, in its clothing lines.
Reformation: Reformation is a fashion brand that focuses on sustainability. They incorporate recycled materials, including polyester, into many of their stylish clothing items.
Everlane: Everlane is another brand known for its transparency and commitment to sustainability. They use recycled materials in some of their clothing lines.
Puma: Puma has introduced sustainable lines of sportswear and sneakers that often feature recycled polyester.
Columbia Sportswear: This outdoor apparel brand uses recycled polyester in some of its products, particularly in its efforts to reduce environmental impact.
Several countries around the world were making significant investments in the production of recycled polyester as part of their efforts to promote sustainability and reduce their environmental footprint. The production of recycled polyester involves recycling post-consumer PET bottles and other polyester waste into new polyester materials. Here are some countries known for their investments in recycled polyester production:
Recycled Polyester Fabric Certifications
For chemical restrictions and environmental along with social best practices, always check out the following certifications for Recycled polyester fabric-
Global Recycled Standard (GRS)
Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)
Best Alternatives to Recycled Polyester Fabric
Econyl – Econyl also known as Nylon 6 is a type of recycled nylon that has similar properties to recycled polyester. Made from nylon-based waste materials like old fishing nets and other industrial waste collected from oceans, Econyl is considered the most innovative regenerated fabric. It is water-resistant, strong, lightweight, easily absorbs moisture, and crease-resistant, just like recycled polyester.
Lyocell – A semi-synthetic fabric made from a concoction of eucalyptus trees’ wood pulp and amine oxide solution, Lyocell is lightweight, durable, soft, and extremely breathable. It also has amazing moisture-wicking abilities just like recycled polyester, making it perfect for activewear.
Modal – Modal is another innovative semi-synthetic fabric made from wood pulp derived from sustainably grown beech trees. It is super soft, breathable, and comfortable compared to synthetic textiles. Plus, it is wrinkle-resistant and biodegradable.
Is Recycled Polyester fabric ethical?
Yes, recycled polyester is ethical because it is made of products that are already produced and discarded, clogging the oceans and pilling up in landfills.
Are clothes and other things made from Recycled Polyester fabric affordable?
Yes, clothes and other products made from recycled polyester are quite affordable. It is made to function just like polyester, so it is quite cheap as no extra costs were incurred in making the raw materials for recycled polyester from scratch.
Are clothes made from Recycled Polyester fabric safe for use?
Yes, clothes made from recycled polyester fabric are completely safe to wear, even by people prone to skin issues as it doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals in its production. Although the material isn’t highly inflammable, it is still wise to not wear any synthetic fabric when around the fire.
Is Recycled Polyester fabric stretchable?
Yes, recycled polyester is stretchable and because of this quality, it is widely used in swimwear, sportswear, body-hugging clothes, etc.
Is Recycled Polyester biodegradable?
No, recycled polyester is a synthetic fabric fully made out of plastic. So just like plastic or petroleum-based materials, recycled polyester too is non-biodegradable.
Can Recycled Polyester be recycled again?
For making clothing recycled polyester is blended with other fabrics and once that is done, there’s no coming back. Even recycling recycled polyester used in making carpets, upholstery, etc, becomes next to impossible as the recycling costs get too expensive.
Can Recycled Polyester fabric be blended with other fabrics?
In order to use recycled polyester fabric in making garments, it is always blended with other fabrics like spandex, elastane, nylon, and other natural fabrics to enhance the quality of wearability and functionalit