Updated: Apr 3, 2022
The story of recycled polyester
Recycled polyester fiber, also known as rRPET, is made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s considered a sustainable fiber because its production requires fewer resources than what's needed to produce virgin polyester. It actually saves up between 33% and 53% energy and, as a consequence, it generates less CO2 emissions.
There are two ways to recycle polyester: through mechanical recycling or through chemical recycling. In the first one, the plastic is melted to make new yarn, while the second one breaks down the plastic molecules to reform them into new yarn. Both are possible, yet they can involve certain disadvantages as well. Mechanical recycling can make the fiber lose its quality after it has been done a few times. And chemical recycling protects the quality, but it is quite expensive.
From all fibers in the world, only a small proportion equals natural fibers, while the remaining are all synthetics. And around 70% of them are made from polyester or more specifically, polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET. Contrary to what many people believe, PET production is mainly used to make fibers for the textile industry and only 30% is used to make bottles. Each year the industry uses about 104 million barrels of oil for PET production –that’s 70 million barrels just to produce the virgin polyester used in fabrics!