What are the environmental impacts of polyester?
Synthetic fabrics are widely used in the textile and apparel industry today, but the question is are they truly environment friendly? The answer is NO.
The whole supply chain of polyester from its manufacturing to its disposal has an adverse effect on the environment.
This can be understood as:
• Raw Material used: Polyester is made using petrochemicals which are largely obtained from fossil fuels and thus is paving the path for the depletion of fossil fuel. In addition, the conversion of crude oil to petrochemical involves the release of chemicals into the atmosphere which are susceptible to damage to the environment. According to the statistics available in 2015 the greenhouse gases emission accounts for about 706 billion Kg alone from the polyester manufacturing units.
• Ocean Pollution: 8% of ocean fibers are synthetic and pollute the ocean since it is difficult to dispose of them. Also, the tiny fiber balls that are produced during the washing of the polyester pollute the water and affect aquatic life.
• Power and water Consumption: From the extraction to their manufacturing in terms of melt spinning a large amount of energy and electricity along with water is consumed. It takes about 125 megajoules of energy to produce polyester fiber.
• Hazardous working conditions: The workers in the polyester manufacturing plant are exposed to certain chemicals that are prone to harm the health of the individuals such as neurological damage, cancer and other health disorders. Thus, affecting the life of the workers.
• Lastly, not to forget being a synthetic fiber, polyester is not biodegradable and remains in the environment for several years. The breakdown of polyester takes about 20 to 200 years depending on the conditions.