Controversy of Recycled Polyester

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Plastic waste is a large global problem. For a few years now, almost every industry has taken some kind of an action to prevent or reduce its waste. Gradually coffee shops have begun promoting reusable coffee cups, plastic straws have been replaced with paper ones and most products are now recyclable. However, what about the enormous fashion industry?

There have been successful productions of clothing which use a textile formed out of recycled plastics. To make this material, the plastic waste is collected and constructed into clean PET flakes (material found in most plastic waste) which can then be used in further steps to form the garments. To make one t-shirt, you need around 9 bottles. There is a great number of plastic bottles floating and contaminating the oceans, it is time that we put them to use. There are also fishermen working in the Mediterranean Sea who are gathering our waste to produce materials like SEQUAL, earth friendly fibres.

Vintage and second-hand clothing is a great way of reducing the overconsumption and manufacture of products, but it is enough? Ecoalf, in an example of a sustainable, high quality brand which uses this polyester yarn. By now they have recycled more than 70million plastic bottles. This may seem like a big number, but if we want to save our oceans and their inhabitants, there has to be a rise in contribution from other companies. Otherwise by 2050, we could find ourselves in a position where our oceans will uphold higher weight of waste than fish. Nevertheless, the development of textiles from recycled polyester isn’t flawless. There have been statements that this polyester fibre is unhealthy. Plastics like bottles and food containers have BPA chemicals, and it is extremely difficult to remove all of it before it is used in garments. This makes it toxic for our skin and it can be passed into our bloodstream causing harm. These minimalistic fibres cannot be washed out. To conclude, wouldn't plant-based fibres be the most suitable alternative for our future?