Slowing Down Fast Fashion
By Simon Williams · January 19, 2020
In the age of climate change and climate action, industries across the world are finding unique ways of using recycled materials in their products. One of the primary materials used in a number of industries is plastic bottles. Plastic bottles can be recycled and used for a number of products, but one of the largest consumers of plastic bottles is the fashion industry. That’s right, the fashion industry which was once ground zero for pollution and poor environmental practises, is changing course and extending the life of existing products to create “new” fashion items just as printers and printer cartridges are made.
Throughout history, arguably the most commonplace fabric in use was cotton. Travelling through farmlands it wouldn’t have been uncommon to see the primary industry and economic driver being cotton. In the early 2000s there was a shift in market demand, with polyester outstripping cotton and taking over as the primary fabric in use throughout the fashion industry. Today, the demand for cotton is half as much as the demand for polyester. Manufacturers began to realise the power of polyester and the sheer amount of products this fabric could be used to produce. The production process, however, was not sustainable which meant meeting long term demand was going to become very difficult.
Introduction of recycling
The production of polyester requires two main ingredients which are not considered sustainable, water and energy. With fossil fuels at a premium and public perception changing, there was a need to explore alternative manufacturing options. It was clear the path to take was one of using recycled products in the polyester production process. By using recycled products such as bottles and containers in the polyester production process, fashion leaders are not only able to meet market demand, they can do so in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. Recycled products in the production process use 90% less water and 70% less energy when compared to virgin polyester production. This is an encouraging figure. With these kinds of efficiency gains through the use of recycled products, it was only a matter of time before the fashion industry shifted production in this direction.
Future of polyester
The fashion industry and major producers of clothing, apparel and other products have shown a genuine intent to shift to recycled polyester. There is still however work to be done in order to shift away from the fossil fuels and inefficiencies in virgin polyester production. Arguably one of the biggest challenges in this shift in consumer attitudes. Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to accept recycled polyester and in certain instances will seek out producers who show a commitment to recycled products. In more luxury or traditionally ‘higher’ quality items however, there appears to still be a shift required. Towels are a great example of products which still use virgin polyester as consumers look for perceived superiority in feel and fabric. Consumer taste is fickle, meaning the future of polyester appears to be a challenge of shifting perceptions across all products rather than pushing favoured products already made from recycled polyester.
The fashion industry in recent years has demonstrated appetite and desire to shift to more sustainable fabrics in the production of clothing, apparel and other goods. Leaders in the industry have launched entire product lines made from recycled fabrics with none more popular than polyester. The future trends of polyester appear somewhat clear, a continuing rise in demand, met by an unwavering commitment to using recycled products in the production process. The final piece in the puzzle appears to be whether consumers are willing to accept recycled polyester as the primary fabric in what are considered to be more indulgent items.
Just as we pursue the purchase of recycled printing technology, so must we explore the feasibility of recycled fashion in our own wardrobes. CartridgesDirect is proud to stand with this movement and encourage our customers to adopt a sustainable outlook in all areas of life. If you would like to see what sort of recycled printing technology is available at CartridgesDirect, visit our website.