The difference between recycled polyester and virgin polyester

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Polyester is one of the most commonly used materials in the textile industry. Every year, more than 22.67 billion tons of polyester garments are produced globally. Because of its excellent elasticity and "sweat resistance", it is especially popular in sportswear. However, polyester is also one of the most unsustainable and polluting materials on the planet.

In this blog post, we will discuss the technical quality and sustainability of the comparison between recycled polyester and virgin polyester. We will also explore why this is the first choice for making sportswear and how it can help us have a positive impact.

What is polyester?
Polyester-the most common form of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)-is a man-made synthetic fiber derived from a chemical reaction between petroleum, air and water. It was patented in the 1940s. Since then, the use of polyester in the production of products such as industrial fabrics, furniture and clothing has grown exponentially.

For example, the sports textile industry relies heavily on the use of polyester due to its superior quality. Polyester fabrics are the best ally for athletes because they have high elasticity, abrasion resistance, and are easy to maintain. Compared with other types of fabrics, they absorb less water and are easier to wick away perspiration.

However, regardless of the adaptability of polyester fiber to sportswear, it is a synthetic fiber derived from a non-renewable source (petroleum). When you think that the oil industry is the world’s largest polluter and contributor to climate change, it looks terrible. More importantly, polyester is not biodegradable: it may take up to 200 years to completely decompose, polluting the earth and its life-giving oceans.

Considering all these factors, it is easy to see that the production of virgin polyester is extremely unsustainable. So, for athletes who need high-performance sportswear, what is the next best thing?

What is the best substitute for virgin polyester?
Although polyester and polyamide are the best fibers in sportswear, we do not use them in their original state. We are keenly aware of the current global emergency regarding plastic pollution, and we do not want to introduce new polluting materials into the environment.

After months of investigation and dozens of meetings with fabric suppliers, we have concluded that the best alternative to virgin polyester currently available on the market is recycled polyester (also known as rPET).

Our research shows that recycled polyester has many benefits in terms of technical characteristics and sustainability.

How is recycled polyester made?
Recycled plastic is made by collecting plastic waste such as plastic bottles or fishing nets, transporting them to processing facilities, melting them into pellets, and spinning these pellets into new polyester fibers.

Recycled polyester has the same consistency, elasticity, abrasion resistance, moisture absorption and color fastness as the virgin polyester. However, due to its production process, it is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than virgin polyester, which is why we chose to use it for sportswear (and recycled polyamide).

By using recycled polyester, we can save natural resources. Unlike introducing new oil into the environment, we can save more than one liter of oil per kilogram of recycled materials.

The use of post-consumer recycled polyester can also enable us to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. We can turn one kilogram of collected waste-marine plastic-into one kilogram of recyclable materials.

Last but not least, compared with the virgin polyester, the use of recycled polyester can save 50% of energy in all production processes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70%. Since carbon dioxide is one of the biggest contributors to the greenhouse effect and climate change, we believe it is important to reduce emissions as much as possible.

The impact of using recycled polyester
The production process of recycled polyester does not rely on petroleum as a raw material. If the practice of recycling polyester is widely adopted, we will eventually be able to reduce our dependence on oil, thereby preventing its extraction from the earth.

Using recycled polyester can also reduce plastic in the ocean and prevent plastic from eventually entering landfills. Moreover, it can reduce the amount of plastic that is incinerated and release toxic gases into the air.

Is recycled polyester healthy?
For clothing-products that touch our skin, the largest organ-it is inevitable to talk about the effects of materials used in clothing manufacturing on our health. Is recycled polyester safe or toxic?

According to the latest research, there is no evidence that clothes made from recycled polyester will have a negative impact on our health.

Extensive research has been conducted to find out whether we need to worry about the toxic chemicals made from recycled PET bottles soaking into the skin. The scientists concluded that these recycled materials do not have any health effects on humans.

You can rest assured that wearing recycled polyester fiber will not have an adverse effect on your health, but it will have a positive effect on the health of our planet.

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