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Is recycled polyester really sustainable?

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After the emergence of man-made and synthetic fibers, they overtook the popularity of natural fibers. And if we look at the global fiber production we will find that around 65 percent of the fibers are synthetic fibers and the rest constitutes the natural and regenerated fibers. Among the synthetic fibers, polyester is the most famous one which accounts for approximately 70 percent. Polyester is manufactured using petrochemicals which have led to its increased demand.

The global PET production has not only its application in plastic bottles but around 60 percent of the whole production goes into the manufacturing of fibers for textiles. Around 104 million barrels of oil go into the production of PET, according to an estimation, among which 70 million barrels only goes into the manufacturing of polyester fiber for textiles. These figures reveal how much petrochemicals are being used just to manufacture virgin polyester.

As people got aware of the negative impacts of polyester on the environment, they got the idea and started to recycle it to make recycled polyester. But when compared to virgin polyester, recycled polyester is really a sustainable option. Recycled polyester or rPETnot only uses polyester wastes like PET plastic bottles and other polyester textile wastes as their raw material but also diverts these from being sent to landfills. This means that the production process of recycled polyester does not use petroleum as a raw material which is decreasing the dependency on petroleum. It has one more advantage that upcycling polyester saves energy by around 50 percent and decreasing the emission of greenhouse gasses by around 70 percent. In addition to all these the recycled clothing items can be recycled again-again without affecting the properties of fiber making the whole recycling process a closed-loop system. These factors altogether make recycled polyester a sustainable fabric.

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