How often do we see PET around us? If you observe we are surrounded with PET and Its variants. From Apparels to heavy industrial Textiles, PET has become one of the most important fiber to humans. This is because of its amazing properties, It is Strong, Stable, and durable, If we compare it from natural fibers it is cheaper with such features.
PET is Resistant to water and chemicals, hence Filter fabric companies use it intensively. PET is easy to care and is wrinkle resistant, unlike cotton and linen.PET can also provide warmth like wool and cloth like cotton. We can manufacture PET as per our need. We can change its cross-section and structure which are very useful for aesthetic properties of fabric. All fashion oriented industries are dependent on PET and blends for its shine. PET is cost effective which make it affordable to majority. PET has its applications in industrial and biomedical Field because of its high performance.
Exponential growth in Production of PET isbeen observed from 1953 to 2019. Around 66 million tons synthetic fibers were produced from which 51.2% is PET.The global demand for polyester fibres is dominated over other fibers even cotton is way behind with second spot. Currently, Asia is the largest consuming region globally, where the fast-growing textile Industries (weaving, garment manufacturing, dyeing and finishing) have been consuming increasing amounts of polyester fibres. The worldwide marketplace of polyester staple fibre as an important candidate of the group of manmade fibres seems to have taken command of the textiles industry lately. It is expected to expand at a healthy pace in the next few years. It is estimated that the global polyester staple fibre market, which was valued around US$ 23,400 million in 2015 is expected to reach US$ 42,400 million by 2024. In terms of volume, the market for polyester staple fibre is expected to increase at a CAGR of 4.0 per cent over the same period.
But aren’t we ignoring something? Aren’t we forgetting that PET is not biodegradable? Yes defiantly PET is one the most recyclable polymer and many companies are running campaigns and even launch products like Shoes, carpets, rugs and etc. to mitigate the environmental effects. Is it helping? Not much! Because polyester is hard to get from blends and segregation is even tougher, Even if we do start collecting and recycling polyester, the PET degrades a little more during each loop. It can’t be recycled forever.
Recent research estimates that globally, 176,500 metric tons of synthetic microfibers chiefly polyester and nylon are released every year. Microfiber pollution is predominantly linked to wastewater of Clothing which releases the most microfibers while being machine-washed, and many of those fibers elude filtration in treatment centers, ultimately ending up in water bodies.
Microfibers are a disturbingly abundant foreign substance in the Earth’s ecosystem – they make up 90% of the micro plastic pollution in the Oceans and other major water bodies, and are easily ingested by the tiny fish and plankton that support the entire marine ecosystem.
Today, textile industry is second most polluted industry after petroleum. With every wash and every disposal of PET products we are indirectly contributing to pollution. One study from 2017 even found that 83% of global tap water samples contained microfibers. So, is the solution is to stop buying PET and other synthetic clothing?
Natural fibers are other option but Wool and cotton may be chemically processed; they also require much water and energy to produce. Buying lots new environmentally friendly gear is still less sustainable than sticking with what we already have. In the same sense, boycotting polyester is good, but let’s not forgets the problem of microfibers is amplified by the amount of clothing we’re producing and buying on a macro level. We don’t have unlimited resources to produce natural fibers. We don’t have enough land and water. Production of 1 kg finished cotton fabric consumes around 20,000 Liters. Population of humans is growing and we have to fulfill everyone’s requirement because clothing is a basic need.
Polyester is better than natural fibres in some ways, and worse in others. It has a lower negative impact when it comes to water pollution. It has a higher negative impact when it comes to global warming, but not by much. And for global warming specifically, it looks better than almost every other natural fabric, including hemp, linen, wool and silk. When it comes specifically to fossil fuel use, polyester is worse than almost every natural fabric.
Yeah, polyester is not great. It’s made from fossil fuels. It doesn’t biodegrade, and it’s uncomfortable. But sometimes, it’s the best choice for a high-quality or performance garment.
We can say PET is necessary but it is not sustainable in long run we have to devote ourselves more on its replacements and try to innovate and invent the new methods to recycle and reuse the PET.
VB gupta and VK khottari
Manager Trident group