Plastic pollution is one of the main pressing environmental issues, as the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products is harming animals and human health. Over 380 million tons of plastic every year, are produced every year and some reports indicate that up to 50% of that is for single-use purposes. Likewise, it is estimated that more than 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year
When it comes to fashion and textiles, the most common fabric used is PET (polyethene terephthalate), which is made from fossil fuels and contains microplastics that are highly unsustainable. Likewise, over a third (35 per cent) of all microplastics released into the world's oceans are from synthetic textiles.
To combat the ever-growing problem of plastic pollution a new and more eco-friendly alternative material, named rPET has been developed. This innovative fabric focuses on a circular economy model and is created from recycled plastic. Below, we will explore rPET and specifically, how it’s made, what are the benefits and why it’s more sustainable than normal PET. Let’s dive in, shall we?
rPET vs PET
To understand rPET better we need to first explain what is, PET is. As already mentioned, PET is short for Polyethylene terephthalate, which is made from petroleum and natural gas. These fossil fuels are extracted from the earth using a good deal of energy and resources.
PET plastic is commonly used in various industries due to its highly versatile features. Firstly, it is a thermoplastic, which means when heated, it gets soft, making it easier to use in new products. Secondly, it is lightweight, has good resistance to chemicals, is strong, durable, safe to use, and can be recycled (most of the time). One of the main strengths of PET, its durability, is also its biggest problem. While some forms of polyester are biodegradable, most of them are not, and polyester production and use contribute to pollution around the world. To be more specific, it can take more than 700 years for PET to break down in landfills. The PET waste filling up landfills, rivers and seabeds needs to be recycled and this is what rPET initiatives seek to achieve.
What is rPET fabric?
RPET is the abbreviation for recycled polyethene terephthalate or, essentially, recycled plastic, this can be in the form of bottles, fishing nets, straws etc. Once processed, the recycled plastic can be used to make a host of different products; from reusable plastic packaging to textile items like activewear, outdoor gear, and even shoes.
Choosing rPET helps create a circular economy by keeping these precious materials that have already been extracted from the earth in circulation. Because this product is waste recycling, it is very popular abroad, especially in developed economies in Europe and America. It supports the recycling industry and the companies that are embracing change. It saves energy, and resources, and rescues these plastics from landfills where they can take thousands of years to biodegrade. Furthermore, recycled yarn can reduce the amount of oil used, and each ton of finished yarn can save 6 tons of oil, which makes a certain contribution to reducing air pollution and controlling the greenhouse effect.
Is rPET a sustainable solution to plastic waste?
RPET is a more sustainable option than un-recycled (or virgin) PET. Recycled PET has a lower carbon footprint than PET (around 0.3 kg CO2/kg compared to 1.5 kg CO2/kg) as it requires less energy to be produced. Moreover, it has become a fashionable material, with savvy brands keen to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. There are several big brands (e.g. IKEA, H&M) that have committed to increasing their recycled polyester usage to 25% by 2020. In addition to this, there are smaller companies doing things – here are a few examples. In 2019, popular drinks brand, Coca Cola, announced that bottles across the smart water lineup would move to 100% recycled plastic or rPET material. The brand has also since switched to clear packaging for drinks like Sprite, as clear plastic is more easily recycled. Even though, rPET is not biodegradable it is still a viable, functional alternative to single-use plastic. To help the planet, always look out for recycled products.
New Sustainable Life Range
We are excited to announce we now stock “Sustainable Life” tote bags. This new range is a collaboration with RPET fabric company Redivivus. The stylish lightweight RPET tote bags are made from recycled plastic which has been diverted from ending up in the ocean or landfill. A timeless classic integrated with ethical production. Promotional rPET Tote Bags are the perfect circular way to advertise your business. The Sustainable Life Range is fully customisable with your logo or design and is printed with your artwork from our Sheffield Print Factory.
The ‘Sustainable Life range’ includes two different bag styles; the flat tote bag and the luxury shopper bag. Each durable bag is made of 100% recycled, post-consumer plastic which contributes to the reduction of plastic waste. They are made from 100% rPET Redivivus fabric. Redivivus creates rPET fabric from recycled plastic bottles that are found in the ocean. Recycling plastic waste is a sustainable, conscious method to help the environment stay cleaner. This new RPET tote bag range is great for companies who are looking for circular solutions, as these bags will communicate your eco-friendly, responsible attitude.
Printing logos or promotional messages on tote bags is the perfect eco-friendly ‘mobile’ advertising tool to promote your brand/company. Our ethically sourced bags created with RPET material can be used for giveaways, product launches, retail sales and promotions.
Join BIDBI’s mission to combat the plastic pollution problem, by reusing plastic bottles to ensure cleaner and plastic-free oceans today. Request a quote here.
Join the circular economy movement with Sustainable Life.
When it comes to PET plastic waste, rPET is certainly a better alternative. It’s an innovative fabric that will transform the textile industry into a force for good, by implementing circular economy practices such as re-using recycled bottles to create fabric. rPET reduces the amount of waste in landfills, repurposing a material that does not naturally biodegrade. However, it is a short-term approach to a long-term problem: that of the continuing and growing pollution of plastics. The most sustainable solution, as it stands, is to boycott single-use plastics as a priority.
View our new RPET range here