The impact reduction that can be achieved by converting from virgin polyester to recycled polyester is unfathomable! In celebration of Earth Day (April 22), we want to take a moment to inspire and ignite the power that we have in the global textile industry collectively to generate transformational change at scale.

We decided to run a simple set of two scenarios on virgin polyester and mechanically recycled polyester (mRPET). With something close to 55-60% of total global textile fabrication in polyester, and growing, we figured it was worthy… and would be significant. Our objective was to estimate the impact reductions in energy, water, waste, and GHGs from the conversion to mechanically recycled polyester from virgin polyester. The two scenarios are a conversion to 100% mRPET and a conversion to 50% mRPET by 2018.

Global total polyester fiber production (both staple and filament) is estimated to be 59 billion kilograms in 2018. Best estimates are that mRPET represents roughly 5% of that total, and we assumed that as constant through 2018. Based on LCI data from our recently completed Material Snapshots on both Virgin Polyester and mRPET, the following estimated impact reductions would be achieved in 2018 in these two conversion scenarios.

Energy (Megajoules – MJ):   100% conversion = 4.574 Trillion MJ;  50% conversion = 2.166 Trillion MJ

Water (Liters – L):                  100% conversion = 426 Billion L;  50% conversion = 202 Billion L

Waste (Kilograms – kg)         100% conversion = 11 Billion kg;  50% conversion = 5 Billion kg

GHG (kg CO2 eq):                100% conversion = 90 Billion kg CO2 eq;  42 Billion kg CO2 eq


These figures are mind boggling, but with the shared and collaborative power of us individually and collectively, this is what we can accomplish.

Where are you in your commitments to converting from virgin to recycled polyester? Follow us on Twitter (@TextileExchange) to share your progress.