What Should I Choose Between Virgin Polyester and Recycled Polyester?

What Should I Choose Between Virgin Polyester and Recycled Polyester?

Are you seeking strategies to cut back on waste? Several waste-reduction measures are available, such as reusable cups, reduced food waste, and adequate water usage. There are also more and more possibilities in fashion, such as eco-friendly polyester. Are you debating whether to use recycled or virgin polyester? To help you choose the suitable material for your next project, we'll explain how recycled polyester is created and how it varies from virgin polyester.

What is Polyester?

Polyester, the most prevalent polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is a synthetic fiber created by a chemical reaction involving petroleum, air, and water. It was invented in the 1940s and was patented. Polyester's application in creating items such as industrial textiles, furniture, and clothes has risen tremendously since then. Because of its beneficial properties, polyester is actively used in the sports textile sector. Polyester materials are an athlete's greatest friend since they are highly elastic, abrasion-resistant, easy to care for, and, most importantly, absorb and expel perspiration more quickly than other types of fabrics.

Regardless matter how well-suited polyester is to sportswear, it is an artificial fiber sourced from a non-renewable source (petroleum). Things start to look bad when you realize that the oil sector is one of the world's major polluters and climate change contributors. Furthermore, polyester is not biodegradable; it can take up to 200 years to decompose, causing harm to the environment and its life-giving waters.

When all of these variables are considered, it is evident that virgin polyester production is highly unsustainable. So, what is the best choice for athletes looking for high-performance sportswear? 


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What's the Best Alternative to Virgin Polyester?

When we first started thinking about The Running Republic, it was evident that polyester and polyamide are the most significant most excellent for sportswear. Still, we would not be utilizing them in their natural condition. We are highly conscious of the worldwide plastic pollution crisis and do not want to add more polluting elements to the ecosystem. After months of research and hundreds of meetings with fabric producers, we determined that recycled polyester is the best alternative to virgin polyester currently available on the market (also called rPET).

Our research showed that recycled polyester has many technical attributes and sustainability benefits.


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What is Recycled Polyester?

Plastic is required for the manufacturing of polyester. Without delving too far into the mechanics of this process, it's essential to understand that polymerization is utilized to connect plastic ingredients to produce polyester. As a result, the cloth is wrinkle-free and readily washable, making it particularly popular in the fashion sector.

PET, one of the most frequent materials used for fibers in garments, is employed instead in recycled plastic. As a result, recycled PET fabric is utilized as a raw material to build new items. Polyester that would otherwise wind up in a landfill is given a second chance.


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What is the Difference Between Polyester and Recycled Polyester?

Plastic that does not wind up in a landfill or the ocean is always more sustainable than the alternative. The extent to which recycled polyester is sustainable is primarily determined by how it is recycled. Plastic is melted and utilized to make recycled polyester fibers by mechanical recycling. Chemical recycling is another option, in which the plastic is broken down into molecules and reformed into new yarn. The latter is costlier, but the polyester quality is consistent. Mechanical recycling is limited to a few cycles before the fiber loses its quality. Both approaches are ways to transform an old sweater or garment into something completely fresh!

Using PET to produce recycled polyester fibers saves much energy compared to ordinary polyester manufacturing. So, in addition to not utilizing fresh raw materials, you can save up to 50% on creating your products. This technology is rapidly evolving. Purchasing recycled polyester rather than virgin polyester is one method to contribute to the growing need for more sustainable clothes.


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Is Recycled Polyester Sustainable?

Recycling polyester has a lower environmental effect and requires no new manufacturing raw materials. That is, it is more environmentally friendly than virgin polyester. However, there is a possibility for development in the future to make the material more sustainable.

It is almost hard to recycle items not totally constructed of recycled polyester but rather a combination of materials. Furthermore, mechanical recycling results in a weaker polyester. As a result, the fabric is frequently combined with virgin fiber. Nonetheless, the market for recycled polyester is growing, which indicates that the product will most likely become even more sustainable in the future than it is now.


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Is Recycled Polyester Safe to Wear?

There is no difference in safety between recycled and virgin polyester. Both materials are completely safe to wear and use. If you have Asthma, polyester pillowcases and sheets are superior to cotton. Although you should avoid wearing polyester near open flames, the material is not very flammable.

Polyester is safer than similar materials. The primary distinctions are in particular fabric characteristics such as stretchiness and ease of recycling. That latter point is where polyester shines because other materials are more difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.

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What Fabric is Similar to Polyester?

Some textiles are comparable to polyester. Because they all have slightly distinct qualities, they are often employed for various applications. Nylon, the first synthetic material to hit the market in 1940, is one of these. It is well-known for its quick-drying and long-lasting characteristics. Initially, the material was utilized for women's stockings, then for military parachutes during WWII. Recycled nylon is now often used in swimwear. Acryl, like polyester, is used in curtains, furniture upholstery, and shades. It lasts longer than most other synthetic materials and is less damaged by sunshine. The most significant disadvantage of the material is its environmental effect. Research conducted by the University of Plymouth discovered that when washed, acryl causes much more microfibers to be liberated than equivalent fabrics such as polyester.

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If stretchiness is essential to you, elastane is a polyester option that fits the bill. It may stretch up to seven times its length before returning to its original shape. The material is related to acryl and is also known as lycra or spandex. It is commonly seen in swimwear and athletics. Unfortunately, the material is not particularly sustainable. It is not biodegradable. Thus, it will most likely end up in a landfill.