In 2016, approximately 400,000 graduates across the U.S. wore gowns made from recycled PET bottles. How many used plastic bottles did that take, you ask? About 10.8 million.
The first clothing made from recycled PET bottles hit the shelves in 1993. Patagonia invested in significant research and development to make this happen.
Since then, the brand has pushed other clothing manufacturers to jump on board and use recycled PET in their clothing. Repreve, owned by Unifi, was launched specifically to recycle PET into fabric. Repreve now supplies Patagonia and a number of other companies with recycled PET fabric to be used in their clothing.
While the exact process is rather complex, the infographic below gives a fantastic outline of each step in the recycling and manufacturing process. Before we get to that, however, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using recycled PET in clothing.
Pros of Recycled PET Clothing
Pro #1: Using recycled PET reduces our dependence on petroleum.
Traditional polyester fibers are made from raw petroleum. By using recycled PET bottles, manufacturers become less dependent on petroleum to make their clothing.
Pro #2: Clothing made from PET can be recycled again and again.
No matter what it’s made of, all clothing eventually wears out and needs to be recycled. Clothing made from recycled PET and polyester can be recycled and turned back into fibers to be used in making more clothing.
It’s a rather impressive cycle of turning old…