PET is also referred to as type 1 plastic. It’s the type used in water and sodapop bottles. So what do empty bottles have to do with fabric? Manufacturers are recycling these used bottles into polyesters fabric called rPET. That seems pretty fab, right? We keep plastic bottles out of the landfill, turning them into something useful and new.
But here’s the thing about rPET: according to a recent post over at Envirosax, the supply chain for rPET is a little bit shady.
There’s a huge demand for rPET fabric, and manufacturers were having trouble keeping up. That’s sort of a bummer, considering that here in the U.S. we recycle less than 30% of our discarded plastic bottles.
So how are folks keeping up with demand? According to Envirosax:
There are now many companies in China that produce bottles for the sole purpose of recycling them immediately into so-called RPET.
Seriously? That is disgusting. It would be more eco-friendly to just purchase virgin polyester at that point, because at least manufacturers wouldn’t have expended the energy and resources to create all of those bottles that were never used.
So how can we know that the rPET we’re buying is legit?
We’ve talked about certifications before in terms of organic standards, and this is another case where close attention to labels can make a big difference.
When it comes to testing for recycled content, Envirosax recommends looking for the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) label.
So what does this mean for green crafters? Research! The first thing that sprung to my mind was Kunin Eco-Fi felt, which the manufacturer, Foss Manufacturing, claims it is made from recycled plastic bottles. I was heartened to find an explanation on their website that clearly implies that their bottles are all post-consumer. I also placed a call to the company to ask them about their process but had not heard back by the time of publishing.
Do you ever use rPET in your crafting?
[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Green LA Girl]