Any sustainable aficionado will have you know that polyester is bad for the planet — it’s a hotly debated topic we’ve discussed in detail too. However, when faced with the harsh truth of how polyester’s quick-drying and heat-trapping abilities are in fact ideal for the sports and winter wear category, one can’t help but wonder if a sustainable option exists. Ahead, we figure out if recycled polyester is the answer.Key Takeaways:
Virgin polyester is the textile form of polyethene terephthalate (the scientific name for PET), a plastic that’s made from non-renewable petrochemicals. By 2030, it is estimated that virgin polyester will account for 85% of synthetic fibre production across the globe. The unsettling fact that most clothes in the market contain plastic, makes the textile industry the largest user of plastic after packaging and construction, accounting for 15% of plastic use. Which is an alarming number, given the fact that polyester is notorious for being non-biodegradable — taking up to 200 years to decompose — and has been a major cause of microplastic pollution in our oceans.
On the flip side, there are several reasons why the demand for polyester keeps growing.
For starters, it is cheap to produce, while also being regarded as a fibre that offers high-performance, durability, wrinkle-resistance, while also being lightweight and quick-drying.
A combination of qualities has made it the go-to choice for fast fashion retailers, but more so in the product categories of activewear, swimwear, weather-resistant outerwear and footwear. In fact, polyester comes in so many shapes and forms even outside of the textile industry, it’s practically hard to avoid it.
When it comes to this controversial fibre, the cons most definitely outweigh its pros — but is there is a sustainable alternative?
What is recycled polyester and is it better?
Recycled polyester (or rPET) mainly comes from either plastic (PET) bottles, packaging or textile waste. However, post-consumer recycled bottles are the most common raw material for recycled polyester at the present moment. In order to turn these bottles into the feedstock, the plastic is sterilised and crushed and is then spun into yarn which is further transformed into a fibre that can then be blended into a fabric. The most common forms of clothing made from recycled polyester include activewear, loungewear and outwear garments like puffer jackets.
At the end of its life, it recycled polyester can be further recycled through either mechanical or chemical processes. And there are several “chain of custody” standards that track the recycled fibres through the supply chain, including the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and the Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
By 2030, it is estimated that virgin polyester will account for 85% of synthetic fibre production across the globe.
Since virgin polyester accounts for more than half of the synthetic fibres worldwide, substituting it with a recycled version will inevitably reduce our dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels that are extracted to create virgin polyester.
An important fibre in our range of outerwear, recycled polyester has allowed us to craft lightweight materials that are warm, insulating and durable. And since recycled polyester blends so well with natural fabrics, a number of our winter jackets and coats feature blended fabric compositions of recycled wool, polyester and other reclaimed synthetics that have been certified by the Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
As a brand, we have been cautious not to claim recycled polyester as the silver-bullet solution to fashion’s environmental crisis, which largely originates from the overproduction of cheap and disposable garments. Instead, we have been careful to integrate circular fibre alternatives and reduce the overall amount of polyester in our collections by limiting them only to our weather-appropriate outerwear.
Convinced to try some recycled polyester? Keep scrolling to discover some fresh-for-fall jackets and coats worthy of a spot in your lineup.
Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-11-17