19. May 2016 ZLC Team
In Fashion, News
Plastic to Polyester Fabric | Is recycled polyester sustainable?


Nowadays, more and more fashion brands are working to minimize their environmental waste and footprints, so they tend to figure out new ways to craft their clothes; one of them is RECYCLED POLYESTER CLOTHING.

We have seen a significant shift to sustainable fabrics in the ’90s. Patagonia first discovered this trend in 1993; they used recycled materials to make their infamous outdoor coats. But are these recycled fibers are better than their virgin peers with the same features? Undoubtedly, Recycled Polyester is ubiquitous in the fashion market, but some say this isn’t a long-term solution or sustainable. 

In this blog, we tried to find and explore Polyester’s history, its advantages, and its counterparts and guide you to select the most sustainable fabric option.


Polyester is widely known as a human-made fiber pioneered in the 1930s in a lab by the chemical corporation. The most common type is polyethylene terephthalate(PET), which is mainly used in packaging. Polyester is synthesized from petrochemical products such as ethylene glycol by the process called polymerization. After the discovery of Polyester, it has become a popular fabric worldwide for its functional properties. Polyester clothing has a non-resistant nature that is non-stretchable and non-shrinkable, easy to clean, less prone to creasing, and quick to dry. 


Recycled Polyester uses PET as the raw material, the same material that is used in cleared plastic bottles to make fiber. Polyester has become the most common material used in the textile industry, with more than 22.67 billion tonnes of polyester production every year. It is used in sportswear as a trendy and most popular material due to its exceptional elasticity and sweat-proof properties. The primary advantage of reclaiming plastic waste is trash limitation and minimalizing the trash to save marine animals such as turtles and whales. 

Companies are now frequently making shoes and clothing made with rPET. They consider it as a guilt-free way to utilize and consume fashion. Another benefit of recycled Polyester is that it can be recycled repeatedly to make clothing with no degradation of quality and no wastage.


The process through which the recycled process is made starts in the bottle recycling center. The first stage is shredding because when we throw away our bottles, we often leave a small number of drinks inside—shredding all the bottles releases all kinds of liquid trapped inside so that it doesn’t affect the quality of plastic. This leftover plastic was then sterilized and crushed, spun into a string of yarn, which later transformed into a fiber.

Ecofriendly Wrist Wraps produced with recycled polyester.
Plastic bottles recycled


Unlike other natural materials used in clothing, conventional Polyester does not require land for cultivating the materials. It requires less attention to sustain and nurture is the reason it has become ubiquitous. Despite this fact, there is some harmful impact on the environment and ecosystem and made from chemicals driven from petroleum and fossil fuel and biodiversity loss risks. But unlike its counterparts like Cotton, it also has some harmful impacts on the environment like fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides used in manufacturing the crop. 

Recycled Polyester clothing does not require land for agriculture and gallons of water as cotton does. Both Silk and Cotton have a limited life span and takes years and years to decompose. Also, we cannot use them in the same way as Polyester.


Firstly, The use of Polyester in the apparel and textile industry reduced the dependency on fossil fuels. In the future, it will have a positive impact on energy requirements with the development of a popular non-virgin alternative. Recycled Polyester will help as a tool to cut greenhouse emissions across the supply chain of the brands. Secondly, it reduces the 48 million clothes of permanent waste disposed of annually in the clothing industry. It will also help find the value of waste that encourages positive recycling practices and introduces recycled fabrics’ innovative possibilities. It will help minimize the 8 million tons of plastic by transforming plastic into fabric works that find themselves in our oceans.

The marine ecosystem and wildlife living underwater are endangered by pollution created by plastic waste could be prevented by using new and innovative ways of recycling. Also, adopting recycled Polyester can help to foster collaboration and promote change within the fashion industry.


Polyester and Nylon are both considered synthetic, but Nylon tends to be more weather resistant and durable. It is also more expensive than Polyester, which results in a higher price. Both Nylon and Polyester are flame retardant, but Nylon is stronger and more likely to be used in outdoor gear and apparel, while Polyester is heat resistant. Nylon is Polyamide, while Polyester is Polyethylene naphthalate. 

Nylon is created as a liquid that is spun and dried into individual fibers, and it is more common to specific kinds of apparel and used for raincoats, swimwear, and beddings, etc. It is resistant to damage from oil and many chemicals, also low moisture, absorbing, intense, and abrasion-resistant. Nylon is used to make blouses, dresses, underwear, raincoat, swimwear, and cycle wear for its lightweight, warm and smooth qualities. 

On the other hand, Polyester is being produced into the thread from a chemical solution widely used in apparel and industrial use. It is vital, recycled polyester clothing resistant to stretching, and reluctant to chemical reactions. Also, it has qualities of quick-drying, smooth, and lightweight used in every form of clothing.




Making of the polyester yarn


The benefits of recycled Nylon are the same as the benefits of polyester. As compared to virgin Nylon, the production process uses fewer resources and diverts the waste from landfills. The fishing net is the primary production source of recycled Nylon these days, and it has a significant contribution to the production process. Also, this is helping to divert garbage from the ocean, which is harmful to underwater wildlife. Although recycled polyester clothing is expensive, it has a significant impact on the environment and has many advantages. There have been many improvements made in this field by researchers to recycling process cost and improve quality.

According to the  Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber Market Report, Recycled Nylon (recycled fiber made with waste material) has a low environmental impact and an eco-friendly production process. For instance, Econyl® is one latest example of an eco-friendly, regenerated nylon textile. ECONYL® regenerated Nylon comes from waste and has become a renowned name in the sustainability scene efforts made in recent years to create everything from interiors to clothing.


Is recycled Nylon safe for our skin – It is inevitable to write about the impact of certain materials and the effect of specific products that touch our skin. According to the latest modifications made in the research field, no proof or evidence suggests the negative impact of recycled nylon clothing on our health. You can rest assured that there is no adverse effect by wearing recycled polyester clothing that affects skin or health, but it will positively impact our planet’s health. 


Nylon represents 10% of the ocean’s debris, and 600000 tons of fishing gears, including nylon net, are dumped into the sea every year. As you reading this blog, you may have thought: is recycled Nylon is the only option to develop sustainable clothing like swimwear? 

Natural fibers like merino wool and Tencel have similar properties as Nylon. 


Recycling often means downcycling, in which functionality and quality of textile are lost. At the same time, regenerated Nylon is made to bring the material back to its originality and provides a versatile fiber as new Nylon. 

At the ZLCOPENHAGEN, we use Econyl® regenerated nylon to develop products, mainly to solve microplastic issues. Our main idea is to protect the environment and reduce concerns like greenhouse gas emissions to improve the global climate. ZLCOPENHAGEN believes in quality and functionality and strives to deliver the best products to its customers, and also believe in sustainability serving performance. If you want to make more conscious choices when buying swimwear, browse our collection of men’s swimwear.

The motive behind the collaboration of ZLCOPENHAGEN and ECONYL® was to incorporate Eco-friendly fabrics and responsible textile production. The collaboration aims to minimize the chances of pollution and regenerate fiber coming from plastic components, fishing net, and fabric scraps.



Swimwear by ZLCOPENHAGEN is entirely made from ECONYL® - a regenerated nylon fiber coming from waste such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps, old carpets destined for landfills, and plastic components.

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