In Taiwan and mainland China, an increasing number of suppliers are starting or boosting production of fabric made from PET chips.
Production of recycled synthetic fabric in Taiwan and mainland China is on the rise. This comes as growing environmental consciousness in developed countries is spurring heightened demand for all things "green," including such fabric.
Suppliers in Taiwan have been one of the first to respond to such calls for environment-friendly options to petroleum-based textiles. Now, even companies in the mainland are offering such alternatives to buyers.
The most common type of "green" fabric uses filaments extruded from recycled PET chips. PET from soda bottles is broken down into the molecular level until it can be polymerized and turned into polyester chips. These are then extruded into filaments and spun into the fiber and yarn used to weave or knit fabric.
This process not only prevents PET bottles from ending up in landfills but also minimizes the use of petroleum in the textiles industry.
Some companies recycle fiber from finished apparel, home and industrial textiles. As with PET bottles, the fabric is cut into small pieces and goes through similar processes to extract the polyester chips.
Fabric manufacturers in Taiwan and the mainland usually source recycled PET filaments from local suppliers. Very few companies extrude filaments from recycled chips in-house. All other fabric processes from knitting or weaving to dyeing and finishing are done at the mills.
Apart from using recycled fiber, a few companies are adopting dope-dyed filaments or staple fiber in production. With these types of fiber, the coloring pigment is already incorporated into the polymer before it is extruded. This reduces the polluting effluents caused by piece or even yarn dyeing.
Polyester fabric made from recycled PET chips is usually 30 percent more expensive than versions in virgin polyester.
The cost of PET chips increased up to 30 percent in 2007 and suppliers raised fabric prices 10 percent in response. No further price adjustments are expected in the next six months.
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