by Wayne Goodwin August 19, 2018

You are probably familiar with polyester - it is the most common plastic in the world, with roughly 36 million tonnes being produced every year.  Polyester is made from crude oil and is an environmental disaster. From plastic cutlery, to plastic bottles and clothing, each new item that is created will take between 400 - 1000 years to decompose. 

How is recycled polyester made?
Rather than using crude oil as the raw material, recycled polyester uses already produced polyester. This is usually plastic drink bottles and other easy to source and clean post-consumer materials, but can also include off-cuts of fabric and recycled clothing.  The process of turning trash into fabric goes like this:

1. Your recycled bottles are collected, sorted & baled.

2. The bales are chopped into small pieces, called “flake”.

3. Those pieces are then cleaned and the labels are removed.

4. The flake is then turned into more formed, smaller pieces called “chip”.

5. The chip is melted and extruded into extremely thin filaments and  bundled into a yarn.

6. The yarn is stretched over heated rubber rollers to change its molecular structure from being like dental floss to something closer to wool. From there, it is spooled together and ready to be woven into fabric.

Why is Recycled Polyester Better?
One of the most significant benefits is that it creates a demand for post-consumer plastics, keeping them out of landfill. Each year, 51 billion plastic bottles go into landfill worldwide, with many of these later finding their way into our oceans.  Changing our consumer choices creates a demand for recycled product, which in turn can help reduce the amount of plastic diverted to landfill. 

Aside from reducing landfill, the production of recycled polyester has significant environmental advantages over virgin polyester:
  • 90% less water is used in making recycled polyester versus polyester.
  • RPET requires 70 percent less energy than virgin fibre production.
  • Recycling 1 plastic bottle saves the equivalent of 3 hours of energy from a 60 watt light bulb.
  • RPET polyester fabric has a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton.
  • RPET polyester fabric has almost a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon.
  • RPET polyester fabric has a 75% lower carbon footprint than polyester.
Wayne Goodwin
Wayne Goodwin

CEO and Founder of Evolve Travel Goods, Wayne is an environmental science teacher, lover of the outdoors, and a travel addict. He grew up in sunny Sydney, spending most of his free time exploring the Australian coastline for surf and camping spots. Now he lives and works overseas, teaching in international schools and using Evolve to show his students that sustainability and a thriving business can go hand in hand.

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