Recycled polyester fiber is a synthetic fiber the same as conventional polyester fiber, in every way.
It is created from plastic, namely that used in the production of transparent plastic bottles. In other words, recycled polyester material comes mainly from PET bottles – Polyethylene Terephthalate – widely used in the retail industry.
The ecological interest is clear. Consumers today are increasingly aware of their own carbon footprint, as well as that of the companies and brands from which they purchase their products or services.
Recycled polyester is essential in combating climate change and the emission of greenhouse gases.
First, because not only does it respond to the concerns expressed by consumers, but because its production requires less water and even less than 50% of the energy than what is needed to produce more conventional fiber.
In addition, the production of recycled polyester also helps to divert plastics that would otherwise end up in large landfills or even the ocean, and to rely less and less on fossil fuels such as oil.
Recycled polyester is a synthetic fiber available on the market since the '90s. It is a light, resistant and versatile material, widely used in the creation of the most diverse products and equipment.
Circular knitted fabrics in recycled polyester are a real alternative to using this type of synthetic fiber in its original form, replicating its full qualities, characteristics, and properties.
Recycled polyester is a synthetic fiber created from PET plastic – Polyethylene Terephthalate – and other materials created from this type of synthetic fiber. This is a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum, created in the 20th century and commercially available since 1941.
It has several applications, and it is from this type of material that recycled polyester is effectively produced.
For this reason, it reduces the amount of oil extracted from the ground, gives new life to previously used plastic and actively contributes to a more sustainable circular economy.
However, recycled polyester should not be understood as a long-term solution. In fact, its use merely postpones the inevitable. As it is extremely complex, or almost impossible, parts created from recycled polyester fiber cannot be recycled again.
This happens for several reasons, namely the possibility that recycled polyester fiber can be mixed with other types of fibers such as cotton and, therefore, it becomes impossible to disentangle one and the other in order to produce recycled polyester once more.
This is also why PET plastic bottles are the type of material most used to produce this fiber.
Even so, recycled polyester makes it possible to divert thousands of tons of products from landfills and oceans, in a production process with much lower levels of CO2 emissions. The process allows the creation of circular knitted fabrics whose quality is identical to the conventional counterpart.
The composition of recycled polyester has exactly the same composition as the original synthetic fiber. The only difference is that this is a recycled synthetic fiber. In other words, the production method is different.
The recycling of this fiber is only possible due to the thermoplastic qualities of PET.
The material can be melted over and over again without changing its molecular structure. This process is called mechanical recycling. It is one of two possible methods for creating recycled polyester. The other is called chemical recycling.
Chemical recycling is the most expensive method. In this process, recycling is done at the molecular level of Polyethylene Terephthalate. In addition to being a more expensive process, it requires the use of dedicated equipment, often inaccessible to most companies.
Mechanical recycling, on the other hand, uses heat to obtain recycled polyester. The process begins with the collection of transparent PET plastic bottles. They are sterilized, dried, crushed and broken or cut into small pieces of plastic.
The pieces are then heated until they melt and form a viscous solution which is then forced through special equipment called spinnerets. What comes out on the other side comes in the form of a continuous fiber that is then cut to the desired sizes.
Finally, the fiber is chemically treated so as to obtain some of its properties and then turned into circular knitted fabrics made out of recycled polyester.
Mechanical recycling is a much more environmentally friendly method than that used in the more standardized production.
Recycled polyester offers a second life to a material that is very poorly biodegradable, whose decomposition can take up to 200 years to occur.
Recycled polyester is a more sustainable option, capable of maintaining the same characteristics and properties of one of the most used synthetic fibers on the market: polyester fiber.
Proof of its quality is the commitment of dozens of major brands to increasingly use recycled polyester fiber for the production of their pieces by 25%. The effort was such that the target was reached ahead of time and the defined value exceeded by about 10%.
Recycled polyester is a way of combating greenhouse gas emissions and helping combat climate change, as well as responding to an ever-increasing demand from consumers.
It is available at ITJV only through catalogue request and sample validation..
This text was written and published in 2021