Pet/PETE is the short form of Polyethylene terephthalate (poly ethylene terephthalate), and it is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family.*
It is most often used in plastic bottles, food containers and in thermoforming applications. Essentially, it is extremely versatile and is one of the most useful and important raw ingredients in man-made fibres.
* The Polyester family consists of PET/ PET-P/PET-F/PET-G, PBT, A-PET, C-PET, PTT, PEN and Modified Polyester.
PET as a Fibre
When PET is used as fibre, people tend to call it Polyester.
Polyester fibre is the most important synthetic fibre worldwide in terms of production volume and applications. Polyester technology is responsible for a large number of products that range from cotton-blended staple to high-performance tire cord.
No, not all plastics can be recycled and there is no PET 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
But there is Plastic 1-7. Overview of the different plastic numbers and their recyclability.
Plastic 1: PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate):
PET or PETE is used to make bottles, food containers and fibres.
PET/PETE products CAN be recycled.
Plastic 2: HDPE (High-density polyethylene):
HDPE plastics are very common and can be used in hard beverage and food containers (like TSUNAMI‘s latest water bottles), cleaning product containers and detergent bottles. HDPE products CAN be recycled.
Plastic 3: PVC (Polyvinyl chloride):
PVC is soft, flexible plastic and it is used for many household products,
plastic tubing, kids’ toys, plastic trays and furniture. PVC products CANNOT be recycled.
Plastic 4: LDPE (Low-density polyethene):
A lot of plastic wrappings are made of LDPE plastic. It’s also used to make grocery bags, sliced bread loaves and fresh produce, among other things. LDPE products CAN SOMETIMES be recycled.
Plastic 5: PP (Polypropylene):
PP is used to make food containers that hold yoghurt, sour cream and margarine. It’s also made into straws, rope, carpet and bottle caps. PP products CAN SELDOM be recycled.
Plastic 6: PS (Polystyrene):
Styrofoam products are made out of PS plastic. It is commonly used to make disposable coffee cups, packing peanuts, coolers and to-go food containers. PS products CAN SELDOM be recycled.
Plastic 7: Other
Any type of plastic that doesn’t fit into one of the first six categories falls under this heading. Products stamped with a 7 are often made out of multiple plastic types or out of other types of plastic that can’t easily be recycled.
Virgin (“normal”) polyester fibre is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and requires a lot of energy to produce.
Recycled polyester is made from recycled materials (e.g. PET bottles and polyester fabrics) and prevents them from going to the landfill. The recycling process reconstitutes the fibre on a molecular level, which provides rPET with the same physical properties as virgin polyester, but a lower environmental impact.
Within that, rPET production creates 75% less CO₂ emissions than the production of virgin polyester.
Characteristics of rPET:
- Very durable and resistant to many chemicals
- Resistant to shrinking, stretching, wrinkling and abrasions
- Fibres are very strong yet lightweight
- Easy to dye
- Retains its shape very well and dries quickly
In the last 6 months, around 65% of our finished products used Eco Fit™ fabric. Others include Natural fibres such as cotton.
Overview of our Eco-fabrics:
● KR0159 – Eco Fit (50% rPET/ 50%Polyester)
● T100 – Sub Max (50% rPET / 50%Polyester) (Only for Rugby Shirt & Shorts)
● T016 – Solar Max Lite (87% rPET/ 13% Spandex)
● T021 – Solar Max (87% rPET/ 13% Spandex)
● T010 – Eco Pro Fit (88% rPET/ 12% Spandex)
● Double Face (50% rPET/ 50% Polyester)
● WA01 (50% rPET/ 50% Polyester) – feature fabric
● MAT074 – Surf Stretch (90% rPET/ 10% Spandex)
● MAT076 – (50% rPET/ 50% Polyester)
● T039RE – Eco Breaker (87% rPET 13% Spandex)
Our ultimate goal is to manufacture 100% of our products with Eco Fit™ fabric.
To have the most transparency about the origin of our products, we are currently working together with two Tier 1 factories only. Both factories are located in China.
The Guangzhou factory produces our Eco Fit™ fabric with plastic waste and bottles from a certified facility.
The factory in Ningbo takes post-consumer waste like used Polyester fabrics as a source for their rPET (recycled Polyester) yarn.
All of our factories for recycled Polyester carry the GRS Certificate. This certificate states the origin of their plastic waste and clearly shows that our factory re-purposes post-consumer waste for our Eco-Fit fabrics.
Going forward we are supporting initiatives to either set up a recycling mill for repurposing bottles into yarn in Hong Kong itself or a greater community to gather plastic waste to ship to Taiwan.
Our Recycle facilities are certificated with the Global Recycle Standard (GRS). That means they are audited regularly by a third party that checks their ability to process high-quality fibres, which are clean and safe and restricts the use of hazardous chemicals.
With our use of recycled Polyester and the sublimation print dye method, we try to be as eco-friendly as possible.
The Eco Fit™ pellet process produces significantly fewer toxins than spinning virgin Polyester from Petroleum as shown in this comparison:
- The production of 1 KG virgin PET needs 2 KG of crude oil and releases 6 KG of CO².
- The production of 1 KG rPET can prevent approximately 100 0.5 ml bottles from going to the landfill and release only 3.5 KG CO² (about 40% less CO²).
Our sublimation prints, for example, only use Epson & Mimaki Original Inks, which are bio-based and granted authorisation according to ECO PASSPORT by Oeko-Tex standard.
No – an allergy to Polyester or any other fibre, also referred to as textile dermatitis, should be taken seriously. If in doubt consult a medical practitioner.
Over time and with extended exposure to a hot environment, trace amounts of antimony may migrate into water or beverages bottled in PET. Health agencies around the world have confirmed these very small amounts – averaging less than 1 part per billion – pose no health concerns.
Regarding the antimony in fabrics, the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says it is very tightly bound in the polymer structure of the Polyester and is not exposed to the skin. According to this, antimony in PET is not harmful to human health.
For our sublimation prints, we only use Epson & Mimaki original Ink which are bio-based and granted authorisation according to ECO PASSPORT by Oeko-Tex standard.
The sublimation print itself is one of the eco-friendliest printing techniques, too. It results in minimum waste as no dye will get into the water system – something which can happen with many other dyeing processes. Besides that, one sublimation print can be used multiple times to print on more than just the one garment. This is a process which is called exhaust printing.
How does it work?
Sublimation involves the use of a digital printer to produce images on sublimation transfer paper with sublimation ink. The sublimation paper is then placed into a heat press together with the Polyester fabric and then exposed to high temperatures of about 170 – 200 degree Celsius. This is when the ink and transfer material turn from solid to gas. Once they are in a gas state, they permeate the fibres of the material. When the heat is removed from the transfer paper and substrate, the ink that has permeated the fibres solidifies and is locked permanently into place by the transfer material.
One special fact about sublimation printing is that it works on no other fabric than Polyester and is therefore perfect for Tsunami Sport products.
Sublimation printing saves water, causes no toxic waste-water and prints can be re-used.
Being eco and ethical is our priority and mission. Therefore, we do everything we can to ensure that our factories understand and adopt our environmental standards.
We are proud to say our recycled yarn mills carry the Global Recycle Standard (GRS), which requires them to keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and wastewater treatment including the disposal of sludge. Additionally, the factories must treat their wastewater regarding pH value, temperature, COD and BOD output before disposal.
The GRS also has an extensive section related to worker’s health and safety, which ensures our safety standards are upheld in the mills.
For our garment factories, we would like them to achieve the ISO 14001, nevertheless, they already have a very small carbon footprint due to the use of laser cutting and sublimation printing, which both prevent waste. Furthermore, our factory only uses bio-based ink for the Tsunami prints.
As we would like to save high emissions on the transportation of the finished goods from the factories to us, we require consolidation of shipments before dispatch.
To ensure ethical standards we regularly visit our partner factories, which includes meeting with the workers and inspecting the facilities.
Furthermore, we have launched a system to prevent excessive working hours. We encourage a smooth order flow and split our peak order seasons–the biggest cause for over hours–into many small seasons by encouraging our customers to order earlier.
Microbeads are a special kind of microplastic. The small plastic particles are less than 5 millimetres in diameter and used in several ways, including as cleansing or exfoliating agents in cosmetics, soaps or toothpaste. Microbeads do not dissolve, and after they are rinsed down the drain they can end up in our rivers and lakes for decades, harming fish and other wildlife.
Microplastics can also be caused by a wide variety of textiles including Polyester. These are called Microfibers. A study by the clothing brand Patagonia and the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that when synthetic jackets made of microfibers are washed, on average 1.7 grams of microfibers are released from the washing machine. These microfibers then travel to local wastewater treatment plants, where up to 40% of them enter into rivers, lakes, and oceans where they contribute to the overall plastic pollution. Microfibers account for 85% of man-made debris found on shorelines worldwide.
We at Tsunami Sport are aware of this issue. We have already implemented additional seams in the workmanship of our garments, which helps reduce the creation of microplastics. Furthermore, we recommend our fabrics be washed in cool water or by hand only to help tackle this problem. Additional measures customers can adopt are lint filters or proprietary products such as Guppyfriend (a purpose made washing bag) for use in washing machines.
Microplastics are often released from clothes when putting stress on them, for example when you wash or tumble dry them.
As washing sports textiles is unavoidable(so far), you can install a filter into your washing machine that catches the microfibers before they are flushed into the water channel.
Any production process has an impact on the environment. Nevertheless, we are trying to keep the negative impact as low as possible.
Therefore, we have been using recycled PET for our Eco Fit™ products since 2005, which causes 40 % fewer CO² and saved 4,238,892 bottles from going to the landfill. We chose to work with factories near to Hong Kong to reduce transportation and save petroleum and emissions.
In our garment factories, we are using efficient techniques like laser cutting that provides us with maximum material usage and minimum waste.
For our sublimation prints, we only use bio-based inks and installed a sustainable refill system. Furthermore, our sublimation prints do not use any water and therefore do not cause wastewater.
For our packaging, we decided to get rid of all hang tags and label stickers to cause less waste.
For the spinning of the recycled PET yarn, we chose to use only Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certificated factories which assure us that no harmful chemicals are being used.
We are currently working on a way to close the loop of our product circle by re-purposing old customer products and turning them into new strong garments.
Our Eco FitTM fabric products have excellent breathability and moisture wicking properties. Breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to maintain the equilibrium between the moisture contained in the fabric itself and the air around it. Fabrics that constantly absorb but don’t release humidity are non-breathable.
PET material, in general, is not breathable at all. But Polyester fabric can be constructed in a way that allows breathability, which is called wicking Polyester.
The weave of it is extremely permeable, meaning that moisture can pass through easily. The weave is designed so that the bits of moisture are pulled into the small holes in the weave and towards the outside of the fabric, where they can evaporate.
The Eco FitTM Tsunami products range from 50%- 90% recycled Polyester.
In future, we will theoretically also be able to make 100% recycled Polyester.
But since the production costs for recycled Polyester are very high this would also increase the price of the finished garment.
What makes our Eco-Fit products environmentally friendly is the usage of recycled Polyester. Our EcoFit™ fabric is made with a minimum amount of 50% recycled Polyester, which is scientifically proven to have the same durability, elasticity and colour-fastness as virgin Polyester, a customer will not recognise any quality difference.
Tsunami is currently working on publishing physical garment tests with a third party to prove this.
Our Eco Fit™ fabrics are made of recycled Polyester, which has the same characteristics as normal Polyester. Comfort is a subjective comparison and can be affected by fabric quality, temperature, humidity and even the garment cut. We believe our garments exceed most of our clients’ expectations.
“Recycling” is recovering a product that has been used and putting it through a process to make it into a new version of the same product. Regarding Polyester, this means making a new Polyester yarn out of old Polyester fabric.
“Upcycling” is using various products to make something new, but not necessarily the same product again. Creating Polyester yarn out of PET bottles would be considered upcycling.
No, recycled Polyester and virgin Polyester have the same touch, feel, visual and olfactory characteristics.
No – the recycling process adds an additional process which increases production costs slightly. It is a small price to pay to achieve our eco-goals.
Polyester is well known to have the best elasticity of all fibres, which means stretchability without losing its original shape. Therefore, it resists wrinkles, fades less, and lasts longer than cotton. Because polyester is less absorbent than cotton, it is more stain resistant, too. On the other side, polyester is more likely to have run, but in terms of durability, it is optimal.
Since chemical recycled Polyester has the same traits as virgin Polyester it holds its shape longer and lasts longer than cotton.
Polyester and cotton are very different. As cotton is a natural and polyester is a synthetic fibre most people associate cotton with being eco-friendlier. But this is a misconception.
Textiles, in general, have an environmental impact to produce, energy consuming and water intensive given the raw materials required to manufacture them.
Even though cotton can be replanted and is therefore renewable, it is mostly not grown sustainable. In cotton production, a huge amount of global pesticide and insecticide is used harming the environment around it. But even organic cotton that uses no pesticides still needs a huge amount of water, often diverting water away from communities. Cotton irrigation is a major contributor in the depletion of the Aral Sea.
Polyester requires less water but is more energy intensive. For its production non-renewable sources are used, thereby contributing to global warming from harmful greenhouse gases. Polyester, however, is 100% recyclable and the recycling process causes 40% fewer emissions, upcycles waste and therefore puts less stress on landfills.
Combining these factors there is no clear winner for the environment in terms of production and perhaps there isn’t. But a garment’s ecological footprint does not end once it is produced. To derive a meaningful evaluation the life-cycle of the product must be assessed. For apparel, this can include low-impact
maintenance, as it is the energy and water consumption expended over the lifetime of a garment that must be considered.
Polyester is more stain-resistant. It can be washed in cold water and dries quickly. Cotton garments waste energy. They must be washed more frequently as they are less stain-resistant, often require hot water to remove stains and need to be tumble-dried to dry in a comparable time frame. Synthetic fabrics like polyester do not lose their shape like cotton and therefore increase their wear life.
No, not all clothes made of 100 per cent Polyester can be recycled forever as there are two different techniques for recycling. The first technique is called Mechanical Recycling and is used the most in the industry as it is less costly. Within this method, the plastic bottles are washed, shredded and turned it back into a Polyester chip, which then goes through the traditional spinning-process. Through mechanical recycling, the fibre can lose its strength and therefore needs to be mixed with virgin fibre.
The second technique is Chemical Recycling. Within this, plastic waste (e.g. old Polyester Jerseys) are melted down and turned into their original monomers, which are indistinguishable from virgin polyester.