Our concern over the use of crude oil as a raw material for polyester has led us to source yarns made from industrial polyester waste and recycled plastic bottles. These yarns use as much as 75% less crude oil than virgin fibres, and they divert waste from landfills and "up cycle" it into useful stuff.
Recycled polyester isn't new, but better processing methods are giving us access to yarns we can use for a broader range of garments. Ultimately we'd like to convert all our polyester garments to 100% recycled content, but we still face challenges in terms of availability, performance, and price.
To be effective, we feel that that recycled content can't be limited to specialty products. We need to use enough of it to reach efficient volumes, so the cost stays reasonable, At present we don't know when we'll be able to achieve 100% recycled content in all our polyester clothing, but it's a priority, and we'll continue to source it and promote its use, so we can add it to more of our products.
Making polyester from virgin or recycled material, requires a chemical process involving a catalyst. The most common catalyst is a heavy metal called antimony. Though it doesn't pose any risk with exposure to the fabrics, we are concerned about the environmental impact of heavy metal processing. We're trying to provide polyester that uses a more environmentally benign catalyst. So far, the supply is limited, but by working with our suppliers, we hope to raise awareness and gain support among manufacturers and other garment brands.
Data provided from Teijin manufacturing of Patagonia® recycled PET.