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100% Recycled RPET: The Facts

With the growth of the green economy in the past decade, some companies have cottoned-on to the “feel good” factor that goes with saying their bags are made from recycled materials.

While marketing teams slap high-fives and revel in another highly-profitable, customer-friendly initiative, the consumers and bag-buyers are left with an important question: who do we believe?

Should more care be taken when buying reusable bags from companies who claim they use 100% recycled materials, or bags made from 100% RPET or recycled bottles?

First, the facts: PET is the chemical substance Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly known as Polyester. Prefixing with an R means the polyester contains recycled content. The content can contain either pre-consumer (e.g. factory off cuts) or post-consumer (e.g. plastic bottles) waste.

Upon request, Dr John Schiers of Polymer Analysis in Melbourne conducted testing for Envirosax regarding the true contents of various polyester yarns made from supposedly “recycled content”. Please consider that it’s very difficult to perform a test to tell the difference between genuine RPET and cheap virgin polyester. His conclusions to the tests are as follows:

“It is not possible to determine by testing the actual recycled content of a particular item due to the additives in the fibres (e.g. dyes, lustrants and spin finishes) as they interfere with the results. This testing, along with other research we have conducted, highlights the following: It cannot be claimed that polyester items are made from a specific number of bottles unless evidence is provided on how this was calculated.

Due to the massive demand for RPET, supply of the material from certified sources is no longer sufficient. There are now many companies in China that produce bottles for the sole purpose of recycling them immediately into so-called RPET. This is green-washing at its worst and amounts to consumer fraud.

As a result of the huge demand, manufacturer prices on certified RPET are considerably higher than that of virgin polyester. If a company claims a bag is made from 100% RPET without certification, but it’s not much more expensive than a virgin polyester bag, then common-sense suggests that the bag probably isn’t made from RPET.

The terminology regarding material composition in some so-called RPET bags is cleverly phrased so that a quick-read indicates the bags are 100% RPET. A careful reading reveals that this is not the case. Phrases such as, “Produced from 100% recycled bottles” actually means the bottles used in the material were recycled, but doesn’t actually equate to a bag composed of entirely recycled bottles.

Without certification, companies may be deceptive in what they declare to be the content of recycled polyester in their product. Currently, and to the best of our knowledge, SCS Scientific Certification Systems is the only company in the world able to accurately test recycled content in material. Without this proper certification other issues may transpire.

While Envirosax were researching companies who make RPET from 100% recycled content, they were quite often presented with fake SCS certificates and fake documentation. Certification ensures that the amount of recycled content in the product has been verified. As testing has shown, it’s not possible to differentiate between a composition of material that may be only 10% RPET and the rest virgin polyester. The significantly higher cost of producing goods made of 100% RPET compels pricing of products upwards. With this in mind, take heed when buying goods that do not display their certification – you may be paying the price of a marketing ploy rather than a greener, more environmentally friendly product.

THE ALL-NEW ENVIROSAX SCS CERTIFIED RPET FABRIC

After four years of researching RPET manufacturers, Envirosax Pty Ltd has gone into a partnership with Unifi Inc of the USA to create its own SCS certified Envirosax RPET. Envirosax RPET is a mix of 55% flat filament polyester and 45% Repreve® polyester (Unifi Inc).

The 45% Repreve® in the Envirosax RPET is made up of 100% recycled content, 65% pre-consumer and 35% post-consumer recycled polyester content (predominantly plastic bottles).

Repreve® is third party certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and Oeka-Tex, and also meets FTC guidelines for recycled products.

The Repreve® process involves converting the pre and post-consumer waste into RPET pellets rather than producing virgin PET pellets. The pellets are the core material used in creating polyester fabric. Essentially, the pellets are heated and stretched to create the filaments that are rolled into yarn and then weaved to make polyester.

The process is so unique the Discovery Channel featured it on an episode of How It’s Made.

Apart from the obvious environmental benefits of using recycled content in the material, the process of creating the fabric as compared to virgin polyester also has many ecological advantages. The method of manufacturing the polyester yarn conserves 3.34 litres of gasoline to every kilo of polyester yarn made. With approximately 25 million tonnes of polyester produced globally per annum, this figure becomes a significant amount. (NOTE: Conservation calculations are specific only to the SCS certified Repreve yarn product which Envirosax uses.)

RPET is a fantastic idea and if manufactured properly can reduce our carbon footprint significantly. However, the industry must be kept honest and companies must be held accountable for claims they make when marketing their goods.

Please leave a comment

  1. Rebecca Graham Says:

    Hi, thanks for the description of Scientific Certification Systems’ unique and transparent RPET certification. I’d love to provide you with a new logo- please contact me at the address above.

  2. Kem Smith Says:

    I am a woman professional employing 6 women in our small town. We use a plug in electric car for banking, post office, lunch, etc. We recycle paper through a confidential shred company and we recycle our aluminum cans. I found your bags at a boutique in Blowing Rock, NC. My daughter and I bought several and now have placed an order for 5 more. I would love to be able to offer the bags to my best clients; however, ordering 260 is more than I could afford. It would be so great if you could offer a lower quantity so I can spread your bags all over town. Everyone would be talking about them!!
    Thank you for all you do for the world and for reaching out to us!
    Sincerely,
    Kem Smith, CPA

  3. Amy Says:

    When are the Envirosax made from RPET being released on your website? I received an email from Envirosax in mid-January talking about a new sling bag and mini-Envirosax made from RPET, however as of today (Feb. 8th), I have not been able to locate these bags for sale on the Envirosax website. The only reference to RPET that I could find on the Envirosax website was this blog.

    Thanks! I am eagerly anticipating the release of these two products!

  4. Julia Says:

    Hi Amy,

    The new RPET minisax and slingsax will be available in Australia in the next few months. Please keep checking our Facebook and website for more details.

    Regards

    Julia

  5. Jim Says:

    “….Envirosax Pty Ltd has gone into a partnership with Unifi Inc of the USA to create its own SCS certified Envirosax RPET. Envirosax RPET is a mix of 55% flat filament polyester and 45% Repreve® polyester (Unifi Inc).

    The 45% Repreve® in the Envirosax RPET is made up of 100% recycled content, 80% pre-consumer and 20% post-consumer recycled polyester content (predominantly plastic bottles).”

    Does this mean 9% (ie. 20% of 45%) of the material in Environsax bags is made from post consumer PET (recycled bottles)?

    Thanks

  6. Julia Says:

    Hi Jim,

    Yes this is correct, 45% of the bag is made from 100% recycled content. 80% of the 45 is recycled post industrial waste from the USA and 20% of the 45 is recycled bottles post consumer all from the USA. Therefore 9% of the bag is made from recycled bottles post consumer all from the USA and 36% of the bag is made from post industrial waste all from the USA. Envirosax decided to work with Unifi and the SCS because these were the only companies we could find that could correctly certify the RPET as 100% recycled content.

    We are currently working on increasing the ratio of post industrial/recycled bottles to 65/35.

    Regards

    Julia

  7. Aidan Webb Says:

    We must use more recycled products in order for us to reduce the garbabe problem that we have:,-

  8. Recycled PET = RPET Subject to Greenwashing : Feelgood Style Says:

    [...] headquartered in Australia with a re-use message and philosophy. Their recent blog post, titled 100% Recycled RPET: The Facts, is extremely informative to conscious [...]

  9. Fab Fabric? Recycled PET or rPET : Crafting a Green World Says:

    [...] But here’s the thing about rPET: according to a recent post over at Envirosax, the supply chain for rPET is a little bit shady. [...]

  10. Fab Fabric? Recycled PET or rPET Says:

    [...] here’s the thing about rPET: according to a recent post over at Envirosax, the supply chain for rPET is a little bit shady. [...]

  11. Audrey Phillips Says:

    i always buy recycled products to reduce the waste materials on this planet.~;.

  12. Brianna Lee Says:

    my family always go for recycled products because you can help the environment :,*

  13. Bryan Krantz Says:

    Of course unscrupulous Chinese businessmen fraud green tech. It is their mission to destroy all US competition with false claims, unfair labor standards, and infusion of cheaper toxic substance into their so-called Green items.

    We need to buy American and green together else we support the fraudulent Chinese shadow world.

  14. Polymer GPC column Says:

    Jordi Labs is leading testing service for polymer Analysis , Additive Analytical Tests Contract Analytical Services.

  15. Julia Says:

    I would love to know if you guys can test between recycled polyester and virgin polyester. We tried to do some crystalline melting point tests, but the additives and dyes in the fabric masked all the results.

  16. Carpet Extractor Says:

    it is of course wise to always use recycled products because you can always help the environment -.~

  17. Rudy Pawlikowski Says:

    Dead indited content , Really enjoyed looking at .

  18. Gucci Scarpe Says:

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  19. chris Says:

    thank you for all the info i dislike how companies can call it 100% recycled and it be a lie in example
    Jim Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 3:04 am

    “….Envirosax Pty Ltd has gone into a partnership with Unifi Inc of the USA to create its own SCS certified Envirosax RPET. Envirosax RPET is a mix of 55% flat filament polyester and 45% Repreve® polyester (Unifi Inc).

    The 45% Repreve® in the Envirosax RPET is made up of 100% recycled content, 80% pre-consumer and 20% post-consumer recycled polyester content (predominantly plastic bottles).”

    Does this mean 9% (ie. 20% of 45%) of the material in Environsax bags is made from post consumer PET (recycled bottles)?

    Thanks

    Julia Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Jim,

    Yes this is correct, 45% of the bag is made from 100% recycled content. 80% of the 45 is recycled post industrial waste from the USA and 20% of the 45 is recycled bottles post consumer all from the USA. Therefore 9% of the bag is made from recycled bottles post consumer all from the USA and 36% of the bag is made from post industrial waste all from the USA. Envirosax decided to work with Unifi and the SCS because these were the only companies we could find that could correctly certify the RPET as 100% recycled content.