XWASTED Fabric: What Is Recycled Polyester?

Our clothes are made from 60% recycled organic cotton and 40% recycled polyester from post-consumer plastics. But what are the benefits of using recycled polyester, and how is a plastic bottle made into a t-shirt?

Benefits of Recycled polyester

There are a bunch of benefits to using recycled polyester, including:

Plastic gets a second life.

In a peer-reviewed journal detailing the production and usage of plastic, it states that out of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced, 6.3 billion metric tons have become waste. Of that, only 9% has been recycled. Most of it – 79% – ends up in landfills or the ocean, with the rest incinerated.

Plastic waste on an ocean beach

If things keep going the way they are, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. That's the same weight as 60 billion XWASTED tees, roughly equal to 7 T-shirts for every person alive on earth. Crazy, right? By using recycled polyester, you're helping to reduce waste in landfills by increasing the demand for recycled plastics.

It's more environmentally friendly than traditional polyester.

Traditional polyester fabric is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, whereas recycled polyester is made from recycled plastic materials. Using recycled polyester can help reduce the demand for new plastic production and conserve natural resources while requiring less energy and a lower carbon footprint.

It's just as durable and easy to care for as regular polyester.

Recycled polyester is just as strong and long-lasting as traditional polyester, and it's also easy to care for – toss it in the wash and go.

It can be used to make a wide range of items.

While we use it in our t-shirts and hoodies, recycled polyester can make everything from bedding to backpacks. So no matter what you're looking for, there's probably a recycled polyester option.

The drawbacks? Recycled polyester still has the same problems as polyester, such as microplastics being released during washing and a lack of infrastructure within the textile industry for recycling polycotton garments. However, companies such as Circ are pushing the boundaries of circular fashion by returning polycotton blends to their original raw material. Nice on, Circ!

How is recycled polyester made from plastic waste?

1. Collection and sorting

The first step in the process is collecting and sorting post-consumer plastic bottles and other products made from polyester. They are then sorted by type and colour to ensure they can be properly processed.

plastic bottles

2. Cleaning and processing

Once the plastic has been collected and sorted, it needs to be cleaned and processed to remove contaminants or impurities. This can be done using a variety of mechanical processes, such as washing, grinding, dissolution, and melting. The goal is to produce a high-quality raw material that can be used to make recycled polyester.

3. Shredding

The next step is shredding the cleaned plastic into small flakes or pellets. This is typically done using a machine with rotating blades that chop the plastic into pieces that are small enough to be easily melted down.

4. Melting

The plastic pellets are then melted down using heat and pressure. The temperature and pressure will depend on the recycled plastic type. For example, PET (polyethene terephthalate), commonly used to make plastic bottles, requires a high melting point and pressure to properly meltdown.

5. Spinning

Once the plastic is melted, it is processed through a spinning process to create fibre strands. Several different techniques can be used for this step. For XWASTED products, the melt-spinning process is used, where the melted plastic is spun into fibre strands; this process doesn't require any chemicals.

6. Weaving or knitting

The fibre strands are then woven into fabric using traditional textile manufacturing methods. With XWASTED products, the fibres are blended with recycled organic cotton.
Fabric on a table

Overall, recycled polyester is a great choice for those who want to make a positive impact on the environment without sacrificing quality or convenience.