The demand for polyester has been exponential over the years; in 1980, the demand was "only" 5.3 million tonnes globally but by 2000 the demand had grown to 19.2 million tonnes.
In 2014, the demand had surged to 46.1 million tonnes. To put this into perspective, the total fibre demand (includes cotton, silk amongst others) was 55.7 million tonnes - so polyester takes up to 73.4% of the whole fibre/fabric market!
Why is polyester so popular for manufacturers/brands?
It's cheap, very cheap... According to the YNFX, the price of polyester is at INR 30,000 per tonne which equates to £327 per tonne and has been for the last 12 months. Whereas cotton (according to Index Mundi) is at £1,235 per tonne - that's some difference.
It actually makes clothes easy to manufacture and look after. The fibre is wrinkle-free and quick drying as well as being strong and flexible. For manufacturers, the fibre is easily dyed, resistant to abrasions and can be given permanent pleats and decorative shapes.
We've read the pro's but are there any negatives?
Now this is where you'll start to understand why this is on the blog!
Polyester is made by a chemical reaction involving coal, petroleum, air and water. In total, it is estimated that over 70 million barrels of petroleum is used every year to make the fibre.
It is not bio-degradable. The latest figure shows that it may take up to 200 years to decompose, and even then we're not sure.
As the fibre breaks down, it releases up to 1,900 micro-plastic fibres every time you wash it.
Harmful chemicals are needed to produce the fibre and the dyes, including known carcinogens.
So, does the good out way the bad?
One point I've missed is that polyester can be made from recycled PET (plastic) bottles, although I've been unable to find out much information or data surrounding how much is made into polyester each year. I think that for this type of recycled polyester production it is certainly a viable, sustainable option but shouldn't be used in place of natural fibres. On a whole, I think the bad out ways the good and should be a fibre to avoid.
What do you think?