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Everything you need to know: Recycled Polyester

In recent years we’ve heard a great deal about innovations in material development and product manufacturing, some of them resulting in eco-ware solutions designed to make a positive impact on our planet.

One such material receiving much attention is polyester, a synthetic fabric that’s become one of the world’s most popular textiles and is now used in thousands of different consumer and industrial applications.

What is polyester?

Polyester, derived from petroleum, is a general term for any fabric or textile made using polyester yarns or fibres.

Through chemical reactions is made into polyethylene terephthalate (PET), what we know as polyester when used for fabric.

In just the last decade, polyester has surpassed cotton as the most commonly produced fibre. Estimates say synthetics account for about 65% of world production versus 35% for natural fibres, with around 70% of synthetic fibres being made from polyester.  

What is recycled polyester made from?

Recycled polyester, often called rPet, is made from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are cleaned, shredded into pellets which are crushed and melted, with the melted plastic then spun into polyester filament.

This can be used as filament yarn, or cut into staple fibre and re-spun into recycled polyester yarn that will be knitted to a new recycled polyester fabric.

What’s the difference between polyester and recycled polyester?

Recycled polyester is just as good as virgin polyester. What’s more its production requires 59 percent less energy compared to virgin polyester, and it generates fewer CO2 emissions, making it a sustainable option for clothing.

However, it costs about 15 to 20 percent more than virgin fibre, and the output of rPET is also of lesser grade quality than virgin polyester.

It’s also still non-biodegradable and takes years to disappear once thrown away. It also still releases plastic microfibers.

How is polyester recycled?

There are 2 ways to recycle polyester. In mechanical recycling, plastic is melted to make new yarn. The disadvantage of using this process is that it can only be done a few times before the fibre loses its quality. 

In chemical recycling the plastic molecules are broken down and reformed into yarn. This process maintains the quality of the original fibre and allows the material to be recycled infinitely, but it’s more expensive than mechanical recycling.

Products that use recycled polyester from The Outdoors Company.

With our new Eco range, The Outdoors Company have brought together products from a wide selection of top brands to provide our customers with Eco-aware solutions, enabling the end users to make informed choices that will help to protect the environment through the use of eco-friendly materials.

Check out The Outdoors Company products that use recycled polyester:

The North Face Jester –

The North Face Vault –

The North Face Glacier ¼ Fleece –

Helly Hansen Day Breaker Fleece –

Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket –

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