Globally more the 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute. In Ireland only 34% of plastic is recycled vs. 97% in Norway.
Almost all plastic is made from materials derived from fossil fuels (oil & gas). Over the past decade we have made more plastic than over the past century. Only 9% of all plastic has been recycled.
At least 8 million tonnes of discarded plastic enters our oceans each year, & plastic pollution at sea is set to double by 2030 (source: WWF).
Polyester is the most widely used material in the world, but it is a plastic in the form of a man-made petroleum based fabric.
Benefits include: durability, versatility, sunlight resistance, light-weight, resistance to wrinkles, resistance to stains, quick drying & low cost.
Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester and it is estimated to take over 200 years to fully decompose.
Synthetic materials make up 60% of all textiles produced & due to their unique attributes (lightweight, versatile, quick drying etc), it is a challenge to switch away from using them entirely. While natural fibres do not use non-renewable resources, switching to fabrics made from 100% natural fibres would place a huge strain on global land & water use.
So when synthetics fabrics are necessary W&E believe that a good compromise is to use materials made with recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) or in simple English, up-cycled plastic bottles. Not only does this negate the requirement for virgin polyester it helps to keep waste plastic bottles from ending up in landfills & oceans.
Converting rPET into recycled polyester uses less water & energy than it would to produce virgin polyester. It is estimated that 60% less energy & 94% less water is used in this recycling process.
In addition, CO2 emissions are reduced and additional non-renewable resources (oil and gas) are not required.