PET, polyethylene terephthalate is a plastic derived from petroleum and is used to make soft drinking bottles. However, by far its most common use is to create polyester clothing.
Plastic is one of the most versatile materials on the planet. Its longevity makes it suitable for almost any purpose, but also means that when thrown away it does not decompose, and this creates a problem.
Of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes that has ever been created, 6.3 billion has become waste. Of this, only 9% has been recycled. There are already patches of ocean greater in size than European countries that are so polluted they are recognised internationally as ocean garbage patches, and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Something must be done to reintroduce plastic back into consumption.
Plastic is first sorted and forced into bales so that it can be easily transported to processing plants, it is washed, labels and caps removed, sterilized and separated by colour. After this, the bottles are crushed and chopped into flakes before being poured into large vats and melted down.
This liquid is next forced through spinnerets, shower head like devices which create long fibres of polyester strands. Once produced, these strands can be stretched, cut and crimped to the desired size and strength, before being sent to manufacturers where thread can be woven into fabric. The end result, an eco-fibre which is virtually identical to non-recycled fabrics.
The process not only prevents plastic heading to the landfill where it would otherwise be destined to remain for thousands of years, it also prevents the need for virgin material to be produced, saving energy, petroleum and water. PET can be made from post-consumer plastic, such as water bottles, or pre-consumer (post-industrial) waste, such as plastic fibre products, tire cord, or the by-product of polymerization plants.
Reduces Raw Materials
Polyester is particularly dependent on highly destructive raw materials, chief amongst which is petroleum.
Reduces plastic waste
Recycling plastic back into clothes diverts plastic waste which would otherwise be destined for landfills, where it would remain for thousands of years without decomposing. Today, roughly 36 million tonnes of polyester are produced every year, of which only 3-10% is actually recycled.
Protects ocean life
Sadly, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year, the equivalent of 1 garbage truck dumped into the ocean every minute. Turning plastic into clothes helps to reduce waste which might otherwise make its way into the oceans.
Greenhouse gas reduction
When compared to creating virgin polyester, recycled polyester produces up to 75% less CO2, largely due to not requiring new petroleum to create.
Reducing reliance on virgin PET
Given the high emissions released and that polyester accounts for approximately 60% of the world’s production of PET, twice what is used for plastic bottles, developing a recycled alternative is essential to preserving our global energy and resource requirements.
Answer to our growing appetite
An answer must be found to prevent further increases in demand for plastic, which in the past 50 years has increased from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to over 300 million and is estimated to double again by 2025.
Benefits to you
Plastic is resilient and can be recycled again and again without affecting the quality of the item. Recycling reconstructs the fibre at a molecular level, meaning there is no difference between recycled and virgin polyester.
Soft but tough
Plastics unique properties ensures that it is soft to the touch, yet remains strong and durable.
Water does not absorb well into plastic fibres, making it quick drying and easy to wash.
Polyester is extremely strong, resistant to stretching and shrinking, wrinkle resistant and abrasion resistant, making it particularly suited to outdoor activities.
Throughout the production and manufacture of our fabrics, social and ethical audits have been conducted and environmental practices have been audited. We choose to partner only with factories that have Fair Trade or Fair Wear policies and are WRAP (worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified. We also try to reuse and reduce waste as much as possible throughout the lifecycle of our products.
Some of the facts about plastic are truly shocking! Ever wondered how much plastic is in tea, or how much we eat? Read more.