Is Wearing Recycled Polyester Safe? – Harms and Benefits

Is Wearing Recycled Polyester Safe? – Harms and Benefits

Sports jerseys and gym clothes have one thing in common, high breathability and comfort. These are the reasons why polyester is the best material for activities like these. High ventilation and lightweight make polyester a perfect fit for exercise and sports. Moreover, polyester lasts longer than other fabrics. Besides, there are some concerns over the health and environmental impact of using polyester. But there are two types of polyesters, virgin and recycled polyester. We will be discussing the second type, which is being adopted by brands to control plastic pollution. This recyclability has many benefits for companies as well as for users. However, there are many alarming signs that need to be illuminated. Find out the cons and pros of them to know better.


They Release Microplastic in Every Wash

The biggest threat to the environment by using polyester is the release of microplastic in the liquid. It does not matter if it is virgin or recycled polyester. Both shred microplastic in the ocean. When we wash polyester clothes, they release microparticles of plastic in the water, which accumulate to become massive pollution. These tiny particles are harmful to sea animals as well as to humans.

When sea creatures consume plastic, the same plastic goes into our bodies when we eat seafood. It is the cost of using virgin and recycled polyester. Right now, we are not comparing them with massive landfills caused by PET bottles mostly. It is about the post-use of recycled polyester, which is still harmful to both animals and humans.


May Release Toxins When Recycled with Toxic Materials

When manufacturers of polyester clothes recycle PET from landfills, they filter every recyclable plastic in the process. Still, some toxic materials from non-recyclable plastic mix into the process. This leads to additional toxins in the production of recycled polyester. Now, the same issue arises in the form of human and animal health. This means that harsh chemicals will be used to clean the used plastic from landfills. These chemicals can clean the recycled plastic, but they have severe effects on oceans. This issue is just with recycled polyester because virgin polyester is made with fresh raw materials. That is a disadvantage of producing it. These toxins can choke sea creatures with fragmented plastic.


High Energy Consumption in the Recycling Process

If we look at the production process, a virgin polyester may need less energy than a recycled one. That sounds strange, but the cleaning and conversion process of plastic pellets takes more time in recycling. Collection, washing, crushing, and then conversion into polyester is a long process.

It takes a thorough sorting process, where only a specific type of plastic is picked. Some plastic bottles have labels of plastic recyclability level, which ranges from 1 to 7. Plastics with identification labels 1 and 2 have the highest recyclability. It shows that low energy will be consumed when recycling plastic bottles of grades 1 and 2. The energy will be rising as we move towards higher numbers. Now, this energy consumption also leads to environmental pollution in the form of smoke and other carbon footprints.



The biggest problem with both virgin and recycled polyesters is they are non-biodegradable. That means they can remain undissolved in sea and ground for hundreds of years. A biodegradable material is not harmful or at least less harmful than it. As the research progresses, we may experience something like biodegradable polyester in the future. It could contain some bacterial colonies, which can decompose that special polyester. But it is just a theory for now. Maybe in the future, we may see something like that, the way we are using biodegradable plastic. This can be a sign of a ground-breaking step.



There are many pros of recycled polyester, but all of them are related to this one factor. The biggest reason for bringing the concept of recycled polyester was to reduce plastic pollution. That pollution is in the water and land in the form of plastic waste. We can save the lives of animals and save people from consuming plastic particles through the food chain. This is how the system can be controlled. The only positive difference is the reduction of plastic waste, which is the biggest concern in many developed countries.



We will discuss the cons first because they are much more than the pros. There is no doubt about that. But it is all about the bigger picture, where the environment gets affected in both positive and negative ways. The negative way is toxins and landfills, which are the result of using every kind of plastic in daily use. They are thrown away in the junk, which makes the landfills grow continuously. This means their disadvantages need to be looked at. After all, it is all about the sustainability of the environment.



Reduce Landfills

Landfills are common in every country, whether it is an underdeveloped or a developed country. Reducing plastic waste is the talk of the town in the 21st century. That is why recycled plastic, paper products, and biodegradable materials are slowly replacing plastic. This means there will be fewer threats to the environment as well as to living things. Now, what are the harms of landfills which bring the urge to recyclability?


Some countries burn trash in landfills, which release toxins and cause high carbon emissions. That makes the ozone layer further vulnerable, and many diseases take place. Furthermore, landfills are directly proportional to global warming. This global warming is the reason behind rising temperatures in the world, where droughts and floods are becoming common. To curb this massive threat to Earth, industries are having pressure from environmentalists. It is a good step towards reducing carbon footprints.


Our Thought

In the future, we may find more sustainability options like recycled polyester. Currently, we need to analyze its consumption and its side effects. Overall, this recyclability factor is better than many options which have been harming the environment for decades. Until we move to a better option in sustainability, the recycled category is usable.