We all love polyester. Versatile and durable- it’s a perfect fabric for the demands of workwear-but not so much for the environment. This article will introduce its more eco-friendly counterpart, recycled polyester (RPET). We will then give you our top tips to help ensure you’re buying authentic, high quality RPET.
What is RPET?
RPET is identical to regular polyester in all features except for one: rather than being made from crude oil, RPET is made using plastic bottles! Not only does RPET find a use for the mountain of plastic bottles already in existence, it also takes up to 60% less energy to produce. With big companies making RPET commitments everyday, it seems a no-brainer to consider switching if you’re already making uniforms from regular polyester.
The growing interest in RPET has meant buying genuinely recycled polyester can be a minefield. The industry is currently rife with scams where fraudulent crudeoil fabrics are being passed off as recycled. Below we’ve listed some of our top tips to avoid this happening to you:
Our top tips
- Visit your manufacturer: wherever possible this should be your number one priority. Any business worth their salt should be more than happy to give you and your team a full tour of their production facilities. Given the ease with which documents can be forged, it remains the best way to verify that they are worth the paper they are printed on. Any business who refuses should immediately signal warning signs.
- Don’t be blinded by a certificate: in order to make a sale, a manufacturer may present a certification as if it’s a silver bullet to all of your concerns. If you don’t understand a certificate’s limitations you are still be vulnerable. The most commonly used certificate in recycled fabrics is Global Recycled standard but the below tips apply to others.Try to answer ‘Who, What,When,’ when looking at a certificate.
- Who is certified? GRS tend to only certify companies at the very beginning of the manufacturing process, as this is the most crucial to guaranteeing recycled content. In the case of RPET, this will usually be plants who take plastic bottles and turn them into fiber. Other companies will then buy the fiber, spin it into yarns and make final workwear products. This means you may be handed a GRS certificate by a company but it is addressed to a different name. What they may say is “This is where we buy our recycled yarn from- as you can see they are GRS certified”. While it may be true that the company named are GRS certified, it doesn’t act as proof that your order will be made using that company’s yarn. Nothing would stop someone sending this certificate as “proof” but then buying cheaper, non-recycled yarn for their products. Thus, without further evidence this is not proof that your product will be recycled.
- What is certified? A GRS certificate will state the scope of what is covered. It seems obvious, but make sure the scope of the certification actually covers the product you are buying. A GRS certificate will not automatically cover every product a company sells. There have been cases of companies buying t-shirts after seeing a certificate that covered car seats.
- When were they certified? Control Union, the governing body of GRS adds QR codes to their certificates. As we mentioned, doctoring a certificate is all-too easy. You can use the QR code o check an expired certificate is not being passed as current.
- Ask for purchase proof: if you’ve been able to pass all GRS tests, you should now obtain proof of purchase from your manufacturer. If they have paid the premium for genuinely recycled materials, they should be able to show you proof of this- or obtain it from the company named on the certificate. Any potential supplier will be aware of the lack of transparency harming the area and should understand the reason for your request. At all costs, you want to avoid the worst-case scenario of putting a product into the market with your brand name, claiming it is recycled only to find out it is fraudulent.
As you can see, there is a fair bit to remember and passing all of these checks will not absolutely guarantee authenticity! We hope that this checklist will allow a few readers to swerve dishonest actors. Our guarantee comes from us overseeing every stage. We leave nothing to chance. If you’d like to know more about our process or the workwear products we make from ocean-bound plastic please visit our website at www.greenerfabrics.com.