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What is Recycled Polyester?

Table of Contents
1. What is polyester?

Polyester is a man-made textile material invented around 1941 in England and brought into the textile industry by Americans. In the early 1970s it was highlighted that polyester can be used as inexpensive material for most of the outerwear in the apparel industry and that was the beginning. Polyester is a polymer made from the polymerization of petroleum-derived ethylene glycol and purified terephthalic acid.

The manufactured polyester polymer chips which meltdown to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is called polyester. The molten polymer is spinning into fibers or filaments of polyester via spinneret to manufacture the polyester yarn which is needed to manufacture polyester fabrics. 

2. What is Recycled Polyester?

Polyester has been driven through the fashion for ages and the modern trend is recycling the polyester. Recycling is the procedure of collecting and reprocessing materials that would otherwise be thrown away into trash and creating new products out of them. There are two main ways of recycling polyester: pre-consumer material recycling and post-consumer material recycling.

a. Pre-consumer Recycled Polyester

The pre-consumer recycled polyester has been made from the postindustrial wastages or excess productions. This includes the production wastages of polyester materials such as fabric off cuts, bottle off cut materials, non-used fresh products such as extra productions and so on. This process is called pre-consumer because these materials have not been reached to any consumers as end products . 

b. Post–consumer Recycled Polyester

The post-consumer recycled polyester is produced by recycling the used polyester materials. If the recycling process has not been done, these materials will end up as waste and land filling somewhere in the world. This includes plastic bottles, used clothing and other polyester materials which have been collected after using, either from waste or from landfilling.

The thermoplastic nature of polyester materials allows the polymer to melt and reform the filaments for manufacturing several ranges of yarn types for textile applications.

3. Application of Recycled Polyester in apparel

Recycled polyester materials have become the modern man-made fabric trend in the textile industry. This includes top-rated sportswear brands, outerwear and outdoor apparel. Now the industry is moving towards sustainable apparel which helps to reduce waste.

For example, Nike has introduced recycled polyester in product ranges including leggings, tank tops, bags, sports bras and jackets. By 2025, lululemon aims to achieve at least 75% of its products including fibres to be from recycled, renewable or regenerative source (or combination of three) and/or to be manufactured using low-resource processes.

4. Difference between virgin polyester and Recycled Polyester

There will be slight differences between recycled polyester and virgin. Recycled polyester has decreased the thermal resistance, lower hairiness and surface unevenness, as well as lower tenacity compared with virgin polyester.

These are the major disadvantages of recycled polyester in apparel, but with advanced technology, recycled polyester can be almost same to virgin polyester now.

5. The benefits of Recycled Polyester
a. Lower Carbon Footprint

its production requires 59 percent less energy compared to virgin polyester. Manufactures of recycled polyester can reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent in comparison to regular polyester. In addition, recycled polyester can contribute to reduce the extraction of crude oil and natural gas from the Earth to make more plastic.

b. Reducing Landfill & Ocean Pollution

Of the 200 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, it is estimated that 10% makes its way directly into the ocean, where it has a dire environmental impact, and on ocean-dwelling fauna. Recycling PET grade plastic into high-quality fabrics reduces such pollution, reduces landfill, and reduces the likelihood of plastic incineration (which releases toxic gases into the atmosphere).

6. Certificates of Recycled Polyester?

The problem exists in the recycled materials are we cannot find whether it is actually recycled or not. There are no chemicals or mechanical testing methods to find out whether the material in your hand is recycled or virgin. Therefore the industry-recognized method is third party certification from authored parties.  There are several certifications regarding recycled materials:

RCS – Recycled Claim Standard

Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) is used as a chain of custody standard to track recycled raw materials through the supply chain. The RCS verifies the presence and amount of recycled material in a final product. This happens through input and chain-of-custody verification from a third party. (Intertek Testing Service /Control union/Bureau Veritas Consumer Product Service)

GRS – Global Recycled Standard

Global Recycled Standard (GRS) addresses input material verification, chain of custody, environmental principles, social requirements, and labeling for textile products made from recycled materials below documentation can be taken from fabric suppliers to make sure they follow the standards. 

7. End

As a sustainable and functional yarn supplier, Hikingtex is always focused on recycled and sustainable yarns such as recycled polyester yarns, recycled cotton yarns, hemp yarns and so on, functional recycled polyester yarn is also available such as moisture-wicking polyester and so on,  if any questions or requirements, welcome to us.


we'd like to share more about funtional yarns with you in future.