What is rPET?
Benefits of rPET
Recycled polyester gives a second life to material that is not biodegradable and would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean. According to the NGO Ocean Conservancy, 8 million tons of plastics enter the ocean each year, in addition to the approximately 150 million tons currently circulating in marine environments.
If we continue at this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic has been found in 60 percent of seabirds and 100 percent of sea turtle species as they mistake plastic for food, according to Ocean Conservancy.
As for landfilling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that the country’s landfills received 26 million tons of plastics just in 2015. The EU estimates that the same amount will be generated annually by its members. Clothing is definitely part of the problem: In the UK, a report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimated that about 140 million pounds (more than 63 thousand tons) of clothing ends up in landfills each year.
“Turning plastic waste into a useful material is very important for people and for our environment,” said Karla Magruder, a board member of Textile Exchange, in an email to FashionUnited.
As good as virgin polyester, but requires far fewer resources to design:
Recycled polyester is nearly identical to virgin polyester in terms of quality, but requires 59 percent less energy to produce than virgin polyester, according to a 2017 study by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). WRAP estimates that producing rPET will reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent compared to regular polyester. In addition, recycled polyester can help reduce the extraction of crude oil and natural gas from the Earth to produce more plastic. “If you look at life cycle assessments, rPET scores significantly better than virgin PET,” adds Karla Magruder.
“Using recycled polyester decreases our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials,” explains the website of outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, known for making fleece from used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and used clothing. “This reduces waste, extending the life of landfills and reducing toxic emissions from incinerators. It also helps promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable,” the brand adds.