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Recycled PET Explained

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 3 weeks ago | Features

Image: the Endless Run Tights, which are made from 79% Recycled PET. 


You have probably heard of PET (especially PET plastic bottles) or even Recycled PET? But you might not know what these terms actually mean, or how they differ from other synthetic fabrics. Essentially, Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a form of polyester that is often used throughout the fashion industry. The polymer was first synthesised in North America by Dupont chemists during the 1940s. And it has since been used for plastic packaging, as well as for clothing.

Recycled PET (or RPET) is considered a more sustainable alternative to using its virgin alternative because it results in a lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact.

Manufacturing virgin PET, for example, generates significant emissions of toxic chemicals (including nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide, benzene). And PET takes a long time to break down naturally in the environment, which is why Recycled PET offers an important opportunity to reduce emissions and extend the lifecycle of these materials.

It is for this reason that Recycled PET has been a revolutionary material innovation for fashion – which is an industry in which many synthetic fabrics have typically been used prolifically since post World War Two. 

In a fashion context, recycled PET is often used to make performance garments such as athletic wear – like Patagonia’s Endless Run Tights. And it is also frequently used as a fibrefill for cosy winter coats – including the uber warm Radalie Parka. By using Recycled PET instead of virgin, brands like Patagonia help to lower their environmental footprint, while extending the lifecycle of these technical fabrics.

As with all synthetic materials, though, RPET can shed tiny microplastics, which are harmful for our planet and particularly for our oceans. So it is important to always use a GuppyFriend when washing your synthetic garments.




If you liked this, you might like to shop our latest Patagonia pieces, which incorporate Recycled PET:




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