AAPN’s Eric Joo: Challenges Facing Recycled Polyester

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Please take a few minutes to read this piece, authored by AAPN's own Eric Joo

Challenges Facing Recycled Polyester
TextileWorld, July 22, 2019
Reusing waste and limiting the introduction of virgin materials are of tremendous economic and environmental value.
By (AAPN member) Eric Joo and Jee-Eun Oh

Stemming from stories about the effect of plastic pollution on animals to microplastics in the Marianas Trench, awareness is growing about the impact of plastic waste on the environment. This, plus awareness of sustainable materials, has led to increased consumer adoption of environmentally friendly products with special attention given to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), also known as polyester. In addition to the waste and pollution aspects of plastics such as PET, the reduction of resources also is driving changes as recycled PET (rPET) saves significant amounts of energy, carbon dioxide, and petroleum resources compared to virgin PET.

As consumer consciousness evolves and becomes ever more aware of the growing problems regarding plastic waste, major brands and retailers — including Adidas, Nike, Walmart, Ikea and Coca-Cola, among others — have responded by undertaking various sustainability initiatives around PET use and waste in apparel materials and packaging. For example, Adidas has announced that it will use 100-percent rPET in its garments by 2024, Ikea has committed to this same goal by 2030, and Coca-Cola has announced that it will recycle one bottle for every bottle that it sells by 2030. Unilever also committed to 100-percent recyclable plastic packaging by 2025. Clearly, demand is growing, and the use of rPET will continue to increase. But with limited supplies of recycled material, there are significant challenges to meeting this demand. Read More