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Is Polyester Recyclable?

by Toni Olukiran

2min read

Thinking more about sustainable materials and wondering if polyester is recyclable? Read on for the full lowdown on polyester. 

What is polyester?

Polyester is a synthetic, man-made fabric from petroleum, water and air, and is often used in clothes. It’s a durable and inexpensive material to use, which is perhaps why it’s the most commonly used fibre in the world. In essence, it is a type of plastic, made from polyethene terephthalate (PET). Check out our blog post here for more information.

Is polyester recyclable?

The issue is that polyester rarely comes in a pure form; in clothing, where it is most commonly used, the garment is usually made with a blend of other materials (nearly half the world’s clothing is made using polyester). These can’t be recycled, meaning a lot of the clothes we buy aren’t sustainable due to this blend. 

However, polyester from other sources that do not contain other materials in it is in theory recyclable. Bottles, food wraps and more made of plastic can be melted down and given a second lease of life — which is critical since polyester is not degradable. Recycled polyester can then be recycled again over a number of years, however, this too isn’t very sustainable since each time it is recycled, it loses its strength and quality and the way to strengthen it once more is to use non-recycled polyester to the mix, meaning there is still a necessity to continue producing it. 

Ultimately, recycled polyester is being used by more and more companies, particularly fast fashion brands, which is more environmentally friendly, but the politics around recycling polyester are still somewhat murky. Polyester is not a sustainable material, so buying fewer clothes that contain it and looking for more sustainable materials such as cotton is the way to go. 

Read our blog post on how to shop sustainably here next. 

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Toni Olukiran
by Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni


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