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Sustainable
Innovations
February 24, 2021
Polyester’s Many Uses

Polyester, a thermoplastic polymer, can be made into a wide variety of products including food containers, disposable bottles and polyester fibers. The fibers can then be spun into different shapes, thicknesses and lengths and knit or woven into a wide variety of polyester fabrics. 

SAYA factory with rolls of spun recycled polyester
SAYA factory with rolls of spun recycled polyester

First popularized as a miracle fabric when it was introduced to the public by DuPont in the 1940s, fabrics made of polyester fiber need no ironing, never wrinkle, hold up well in the wash and the price is reasonable. For those reasons it is still used in a wide variety of apparel, including uniforms, activewear, undergarments and sleepwear.

Because of its high tensile strength polyester fiber is also utilized in home furnishings such as bedding, carpet and curtains as well as ropes, sails and thread. It can be used for insulation by manufacturing hollow fibers such as Primaloft.

Sails are often made of durable polyester fiber
Sails are often made of durable polyester fiber

Hydrophobic (moisture repelling) in nature and quick drying, it caught the attention of outdoorsman and entrepreneur, Yvon Chouinard, who in 1981 introduced the first-generation of fleece, called Synchilla, under the brand name Patagonia. Polyester proved to retain its shape and was easily washed and dried so it was perfect for active apparel. Within a decade it was being used widely in sports and outdoor clothing. 

Outdoor brands have proliferated the types of fabric made with polyester coming up with new patents for unique polyester compounds and fabrications including Patagonia’s Capilene® used in baselayers, Polartec’s PowerDry® and PowerStretch® moisture wicking layers and Cordura® abrasion resistant pack and apparel fabrics.

Athletic apparel made out of performance recycled polyester
Athletic apparel made out of performance recycled polyester

Recently with an eye on sustainability more and more brands are mixing virgin polyester with recycled polyester or going with 100% recycled content to minimize dependence on petroleum and reduce CO2 emissions.

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