Polyester accounts for approximately 60% of the world’s production of PET - developing a non-virgin supply chain for polyester fibre which has the potential to massively impact the global energy and resource requirements.
Recycled polyester is almost the same as virgin polyester in terms of its quality, but its production requires far less energy compared to virgin polyester, according to a 2017 study published by the Swiss Federal Office. If you look at life cycle assessments, RPET scores significantly better than virgin PET.
In addition, recycled polyester can contribute to reducing the extraction of crude oil and natural gas from the earth to make more plastic. Using recycled polyester to create ethical clothing lessens our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials. As they have quick drying, recovery, and wrinkle-free properties, they are an ideal fabric for ethical clothing such as workwear, swimwear, activewear and other garments. These benefits make it difficult to switch entirely away from synthetics. In addition, while natural fibres don’t use non-renewable resources, switching to 100% natural fibres would put a huge strain on our land and water use. It’s a tricky balance.