Polyester is a versatile synthetic fibre that is easy to care for. But it also uses large amounts of energy to produce, is based on non-renewable petroleum and it is non-biodegradable.
Whilst we see a role for polyester as a key fibre in the near term - as our second most important fibre in terms of volue, these characteristics mean that we need to make every effort to minimise its negative impacts as well as investigate alternative fibres for long-term viability.
We can reduce the impact of polyester by increasing our use of recycled polyester made from waste products such as plastic bottles and leftover fabric.
FINDING SOLUTIONS TO MICROPLASTICS
Ultimately, as a petroleum-based product, polyester is not biodegradable and will persist in ecosystems even as it eventually breaks apart. Polyester fabric – whether recycled or not – can contribute to microplastic pollution as tiny fibres enter the water system from washing clothes.
This is a topic we are closely monitoring, and which we are addressing through our partnerships with e.g. Fashion For Good initiatives and through Invest FWD investments in innovative and alternative fibres.
To support the development of alternatives to polyester, we also joined Fashion for Good’s Full Circle Textiles Project for polyester.
The project aims to scale promising chemical recycling options for polyester, as well as their Renewable Carbon Textiles Project, which prioritises PHA polymer fibres.
Our Innovation Lab joined the innovative ReSuit project – led by Danish Technological Institute. With ReSuit, we are working with various stakeholders to help establish a textile industry in Denmark that can facilitate the recycling of all textile waste.
Invest FWD has invested in Ambercycle, an American company specialising in polyester recycling. They have developed a pioneering process for used polyester textiles that separates and purifies post-consumer textile waste at the molecular level to produce regenerated materials that can be crafted into new garments.