You are probably familiar with polyester - it is the most common plastic in the world, with roughly 36 million tonnes being produced every year. Polyester is made from crude oil and is an environmental disaster. From plastic cutlery, to plastic bottles and clothing, each new item that is created will take between 400 - 1000 years to decompose.
Typically, high performance towels are made from virgin polyester, like those made by our competitors. We wanted to find a better way, and so we searched for the most eco-friendly material we could find, while still maintaining superior performance.
How is recycled polyester made?
Rather than using crude oil as the raw material, recycled polyester uses already produced polyester. This is usually in the form of plastic drink bottles and other easy to source and clean post-consumer materials, but can also include off-cuts of fabric and recycled clothing. The process of turning trash into fabric goes like this:
1. Your recycled bottles are collected, sorted & baled.
2. The bales are chopped into small pieces, called “flake”.
3. Those pieces are then cleaned and the labels are removed.
4. The flake is then turned into more formed, smaller pieces called “chip”.
5. The chip is melted and extruded into extremely thin filaments and bundled into a yarn.
6. The yarn is stretched over heated rubber rollers to change its molecular structure from being like dental floss to something closer to wool. From there, it is spooled together and ready to be woven into fabric.
Why is Recycled Polyester Better?
One of the most significant benefits is that it creates a demand for post-consumer plastics, keeping them out of landfill. Each year, 51 billion plastic bottles go into landfill worldwide, with many of these later finding their way into our oceans. By the year 2050, scientists predict that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by mass. Changing our consumer choices creates a demand for recycled product, which in turn can help reduce the amount of plastic diverted to landfill.
Aside from reducing landfill, the production of recycled polyester has significant environmental advantages over virgin polyester:
90% less water is used in making recycled polyester versus polyester.
- RPET requires 70 percent less energy than virgin fibre production.
- RPET fabric has a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton.
- RPET polyester fabric has almost a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon.
- RPET polyester fabric has a 75% lower carbon footprint than polyester.
Using recycled polyester allows us to create a high performance product that has raised the standards of what you can expect from a towel. Our EcoLite™ fabric is light weight, quick dry and super soft to touch. At the same time, we're able to keep our impact to a minimum and have a positive impact on the world around us. Each towel we sell keeps plastic out of our oceans, and that makes us very proud.
We would LOVE to not be able to make any more towels, because we’ve run out of plastic waste to recycle. Unfortunately, the 2 million plastic drinking bottles that were manufactured around the world since you started reading this blog post won’t decompose for another 450 years.
Until then, we’re going to keep making the best damn towels on the planet, because this is how we respond to the global plastic crisis.Each towel we make takes an average of 20 plastic bottles out of our oceans.
Each choice you make, makes a difference. It’s time to Evolve.