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RE-CYCLED POLYESTER: SORTING FACT FROM FICTION

Image Courtesy of EU-ECOLABEL

Image Courtesy of EU-ECOLABEL

IMAGE CREDIT: LUCY MERRIMAN

IMAGE CREDIT: LUCY MERRIMAN

In the current Textile Industry’s feverish focus on Sustainability, Manufacturers claims for ‘re-cycled’ or ‘sustainable’ Polyester are multiplying daily.

No doubt some of them are well founded, but are others, cynically, just jumping on the bandwagon ?

What is meant by ‘re-cycled’ Polyester ?

Yes, it may come from old bottles, or plastic waste, but what about the processes that transform this feed stock into textiles. Noxious chemicals are still used, water is consumed in vast quantities, and power is used in a typically wasteful Textile way, to produce the finished article.

For example, since bottle feedstock is multi coloured, and fabric is white, the rPET has to be bleached using chlorine based whitening agents and oils added, to permit the spinning and weaving of the fibres created from the feedstock. Sure, the feedstock is a re-cycled product, but with all the other processes needed to convert the feedstock to fabric, are the claims of ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’ or even ‘re-cycled’ justified ? Plus, we still have the Micro-Plastics problem with virgin or rPET, and a typical wash can release 700,000 micro beads into the water system, polluting our planet.

Happily, for the consumer at least, there are International Standards governing the use of such terms, and these are backed up by stringent testing and certification.

Leading the way  in Eco Labelling is the EU Ecolabel which uses  BS EN ISO 14021:2016 an Internationally recognised standard for self-declared environmental claims.

Although not yet compulsory in the UK, it provides a basis for the consumer to ask the question, '“what environmental standard does this product reach ?”. This question is similar to asking , “what Flame Resistance Standard does this product reach’” and the answer to the consumer should be equally unequivocal.

If the product doesn’t reach the required standard, then the claim for “Re-cycled” has to be discounted, and the consumer can now look elsewhere for the product that fulfils their ecological ambitions.

For those interested in looking deeper into this subject, read more at :