Polyester Sustainability | Can polyester be eco friendly?

Have you ever heard about Polyester? What do you know about polyester sustainability? Let’s find out what Polyester is, how is polyester sustainability demonstrated, and how it affects the environment with Dugarco!

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1. What is polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic, man-made polymer made by combining ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. The majority of virgin polyester is made from petroleum (also known as crude oil and petroleum). It is a yellowish-black liquid that occurs naturally in geological formations below the Earth’s surface and is a carbon-intensive non-renewable resource. Most polyester sustainability in clothes is made from plastic and fiber, which is the most widely used fiber in the world and accounts for about half of the overall fiber market and about 80% of synthetic fibers.

polyester sustainability
The polyester material used in garment

2. How does the sustainability of polyester affect the environment?

Polyester is considered a sustainable material, with properties that are easy to wash, use less water and wash quickly. However, when used for a long time, polyester can shed microplastics after each wash and are difficult to decompose in the environment, which can affect the environment.

polyester sustainability
Polyester is considered a sustainable material, with properties that are easy to wash

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2.1. Polyester production affects clean water

Water pollution is a huge problem of polyester that leads to bad effects on water. During polyester production, the washing and disposal of polyester contribute to a significant amount of water pollution in terms of heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and plastic pollution. Leaks or spills related to the transport of oil can also have detrimental effects on groundwater, oceans, and other water sources.

2.2. Polyester dyes affect the environment

The textile dyes are highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic so they are related to environmental degradation and human health. Dye polyester fabrics is a special dye that is insoluble in water. It is made up of a complex molecular structure that does not break down easily. Wastewater from textile dyeing factories is difficult to treat. Therefore, it is essential to employ wastewater treatment strategies that ensure environmental sustainability for future generations.

polyester sustainability
Dye polyester fabrics are insoluble in water.

2.3. Polyester is made from fossil fuels

Polyester sustainability or also known as virgin polyester produced in a chemical reaction between ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. These chemicals are derived from fossil fuels, air, and water. It is then molded into yarn and then woven into fabric by manufacturers. Today, about 50% of the world’s clothing is made of polyester and is expected to increase further in the near future.

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2.4. Degradability of Polyester and its impact on the environment

Polyester is a very degradable material, which can take thousands of years to decompose. Polyester, when used for a long time, will peel off the small fibers and enter the wastewater when we wash synthetic clothes. When released into the wild, it is harmful to marine life, animals or humans when ingested. However, in this day and age, you can recycle this material for today’s production.

Chemical formula of polyester

2.5. Polyester sustainability encourages fashion overproduction

It is cheaper and easier to buy woven fabric than natural fibers, so Polyester accounts for 52% of global yarn production. Compared with ordinary natural fabrics, polyester has many outstanding advantages such as not absorbing moisture but absorbing oil. It is this characteristic that makes them the perfect fabric for waterproof, dustproof, and fireproof applications. Brands have focused on polyester and created a huge amount of fashion products. Since the advent of polyester, global clothing production has doubled.

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3. What is recycled polyester? Is it the best sustainable fashion solution?

3.1. What is recycled polyester?

Recycled polyester is a product created from plastic bottle materials that are melted to become new polyester fibers. This is one of the ways to help reuse plastic from available sources. The production of recycled polyester requires far fewer resources than the production of new yarns with original polyester and produces less CO2 emissions.

What are the benefits of using recycled polyester

3.2. What are the benefits and disadvantages of recycled polyester?

The use of recycled polyester has environmental benefits such as being recycled, preventing polyester from being disposed of indiscriminately, and eco-friendly. The properties of recycled polyester are almost the same as the virgin form: durable, lightweight, crease-resistant, colourfast, quick-drying, stain resistant, and economical.

That’s right, there’s one Japanese factory operating at a commercial scale that will recycle their own polyester from Patagonia into fresh polyester. The rest of the global output of polyester can’t be recycled using today’s technology. Used textiles of pure cotton have value since they can be mechanically recycled, but as soon as you add more than 5% polyester.

polyester sustainability
Polyester is not recyclable.

While there is some promising technology that could melt polyester out of polyester-cotton blends for recycling, to be building an efficient global system for the collection and sorting of used polyester It’s hard to recycle. As a result, almost all polyester and polyester blended scrap used in fashion ends up in landfills, incinerated or washed out to sea. Even if we start collecting and recycling polyester, PET will break down a little more in each loop. It cannot be recycled forever.

3.3. Are eco-friendly clothing manufacturers preferring to use polyester?

Eco friendly apparel manufacturers are constantly reminded of the effects of polyester products. Especially when using polyester recycled into microfiber to create synthetic clothing.

Especially when using recycled polyester into microfiber to create synthetic clothing.
Using recycled polyester results in 55% more energy savings than producing virgin polyester. In addition, Recycled Polyester helps reduce the possibility of extracting crude oil and natural gas from the Earth.

The disadvantage of polyester recycling in production is that it is difficult to decompose, making it difficult to recycle. At the same time, it takes a lot of water, energy and chemicals, which increases costs and is not environmentally friendly.

4. Some advantages make users choose Polyester

Here are the advantages that make users prefer using polyester materials:

4.1. Not harmful to your health

Many people believe that polyester is harmful to human health because there’s a rumor that polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles. But, that’s not true. To create polyester, you need pure, uncontaminated PET bottles. Another rumor is that polyester is carcinogenic. But pure polyethylene terephthalate is not completely toxic.It is only toxic when it is mixed with other compounds, dyed, or washed. The same goes for other fabrics. No one knows for sure if it causes cancer, but the wearer can be prone to rashes, itching, redness, eczema, and dermatitis.

polyester sustainability
Polyester is not harmful to our health

4.2. Polyester has high strength, and does not break quickly

Textile researchers know that blending polyester with natural fiber can actually make a garment last longer. Polyester has very good resistance to shrinkage and stretching. Thanks to the spinning process, the polyester fibers curl together and form a strong structure that is hard to break. While some other fabrics such as chiffon, cotton, etc. tend to quickly become flabby and sag after a while, the polyester fabric retains its original shape for most of the time it is worn. Besides, Polyester is also resistant to wrinkles and does not wear out. Through the above characteristics, we can see the polyester’s sustainability.

4.3. Polyester production is less polluting than other synthetic fibers

Another rumor is that polyester always uses more water and creates more greenhouse gas emissions than natural fibers. For global warming, it looks better than most other natural fabrics, including hemp, linen, wool, and silk. When it comes to fossil fuel usage, polyester is inferior to most natural fabrics, except silk. It has a lower negative impact than cotton when it comes to water pollution, water scarcity, and chemistry. Polyester is criticized because it comes from chemistry.

polyester sustainability
Polyester is less polluting than we think

In short, polyester is just average when it comes to environmental impacts during its production, and it depends a lot on how it’s made, rather than the polyester itself.

5. Some materials can replace Eco-friendly Polyester

Polyester is bad for the environment, we can start looking for alternatives when shopping. There are many sustainable alternatives to polyester.

5.1. Linen

Linen is a fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. When grown in its natural geographical zones and harvested and turned into fabric, it does not create waste. The flax plant has many other uses and can be turned into paper, oil, and other bio-materials. Flax farming requires less water and pesticides to grow than conventional cotton. If it is not dyed (or eco-dyed), it is completely biodegradable. Linen is known to last for hundreds of uses, making it the perfect fabric to have in your wardrobe.

polyester sustainability
Linen is the perfect alternative to polyester

5.2. Repreve

Repreve is a series of recycled fabrics made by UNIFI, which include resin, nylon 6, and polyester. Repreve Polyester là loại sợi được làm từ vật liệu tái chế, bao gồm cả chai nhựa. Over 25 billion plastic bottles have been recycled so far to make Repreve fabric. Making Repreve doesn’t require the use of new petroleum, as well as emitting fewer greenhouse gases and conserves water and energy in the process. However, these are not a perfect replacement as they cannot be recycled again.

5.3. Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is more sustainable than conventional cotton. Most organic cotton is grown in rain-fed areas; this means farmers rely on rain to water their cotton instead of having to extract water from the ground. This saves water. Organic cotton emits up to 46% fewer greenhouse gases than non-organic cotton and requires 62% less energy than conventional cotton. Another benefit of using organic cotton instead of polyester is that it does not contain harmful chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers, which is better for the environment.

polyester sustainability
Organic cotton is more sustainable.

5.4. Hemp

Hemp is one of the plants with a long history of being cultivated by humans. Hemp is produced on almost every continent in the world and is one of the most sustainable fabrics you can buy today. It returns up to 70% of the nutrients taken from the soil during the growing process, which is important for soil biodiversity. Hemp requires very little water and can produce twice as much fiber per hectare as cotton. It also grows extremely well organically, eliminating the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Hemp is biodegradable, breathable, renew, able, and feels similar to linen wear. Woven from hemp stem fibers, Hemp fabric does not seem to hurt your skin, making it suitable for sensitive skin types.

polyester sustainability
polyester sustainability
Hemp fabric is used as an alternative to polyester

After knowing some knowledge about polyester sustainability, we cannot deny the benefits that this material brings, but it also has many serious effects on the environment. A polyester object takes 200 years to really decompose, so each of us should use polyester when absolutely necessary, and reduce it when there are other natural materials that can be replaced.

Above is the polyester sustainability information that Dugarco offers you. Hopefully, with this useful information, you can choose the right, friendly and safe clothing fabric for yourself. For any questions, please contact Dugarco for the most detailed advice!

Contact Information:

  • Address: No.59, Duc Giang Street, Duc Giang Ward, Long Bien Districts, Hanoi, Viet Nam
  • Phone: 024 3655 7930
  • Email: dugarco@mayducgiang.com.vn
  • Website: https://dugarco.com/en/


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