Why Recycled Polyester Is a Tough Nut to Crack
It’s not an easy thing, wrapping one’s head around the issue of recycled polyester, and we do struggle to figure out if it’s a truly good thing or not. As with anything labeled "sustainable", especially in fashion, we guess it’s more a question of better or worse.
Even though ‘recycled polyester’ is a buzzword implying sustainability, we do feel there are some aspects of the material that could be discussed more. It’s not entirely uncomplicated, but in the world of sustainability it never is.
There are a few problems with polyester (recycled or not) that we can’t overlook. Firstly: it’s an oil based fiber, which means it’s made from a limited natural resource. When it’s incinerated – and this is the fate of huge amounts of discarded clothing – this fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide emissions, which have a very negative environmental impact as it contributes to climate change. Plastic materials like polyester also decompose extremely slowly in nature (we’re talking hundreds of years), which makes the issue of a functioning textile waste disposal even more pressing.
That’s one thing. Another is the problem of microplastics: you know, those micro-sized plastic particles that are released from synthetic materials, such as polyester. This becomes an issue when you wash your polyester garments at home, as it (unintentionally) releases the synthetic fibers into nature via the rinse water; they’re basically too small to get caught in the filters at the treatment plants. In marine environments, these oil-based particles attract toxic chemicals that are not normally soluble in the water, which is how they end up in aquatic animals and, well yes – in you and me via the food we eat.
However, polyester does have its advantages: it can be created through recycling, for one. This refers to polyester made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles or other pre-existing plastic products, like old fishing nets. This type of chemical recycling is already done on a large scale in Asia, and is about to branch out globally in the coming years. From what we understand, it’s also possible today to recycle pure polyester fibers mechanically into new fabrics or other plastic products, but we’re not sure how far we are from turning this into a viable commercial method.
So, the conclusion here might be this: For polyester to exist within a completely closed loop – which would be preferable from a sustainable perspective – we would need a scalable solution for textile-to-textile recycling. But until we get there we’re glad that plastic waste, like old bottles, can come to good use in the form of beautiful fashion (just look at this dreamy Totême bag!). After all – it’s all about making use of what’s already here.
Make it last x Circulose Jacket
With deadstock Circulose® fabric and local production by Fugeetex, Make it last launches its first product– a timeless jacket reminding of the real luxury of fashion.
The 3 Hottest Brands at Copenhagen Fashion Week
These three brands are shortlisted for the Zalando Sustainability Award.
Amason: ”We send files, emails and animals”
With the release of the first single from their upcoming album (and a virtual release party tonight), Swedish band Amason teams up with adidas and the new, more sustainable Stan Smith. The space of which the iconic shoe enters is one where the love of nature takes center stage. Make it last talks to the band about why they always end up with the animals.
Stan Smith, Forever
Always iconic. Now more sustainable. We’re proudly partnering up with adidas to show you the next generation of sustainable takes on the storied Stan Smith silhouette.