Brands are marketing recycled polyester clothes with sustainability as their unique selling proposition (USP) to consumers, who think that they buy new clothes made from recycled old clothes.
But recycled polyester is not made from polyester fabric, it is made from single-use plastic bottles.
This confuses, as typically the common understanding of the word polyester is a type of fabric.
The demand for recycled polyester goes hand-in-hand with a dependence on single-use plastic bottles.
This is paradoxical, as the target customers for recycled polyester are eco-conscious consumers, who may have a dislike for single-use plastics and try to avoid them.
Photo Credit: Plastics Today
Once polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are taken as feedstock for clothing, they head into a dead end.
Because the PET is bound in these clothes and cannot be recycled, as there is currently no technology scaled up enough to take these fabrics and return them to virgin quality polyester so they can be used again.
The value of the material is stuck in the clothing. And once it has reached its end-of-life, it will end up in landfill.