Will the fashion industry outgrow PET bottles if chemical recycling for textiles takes off?

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he problems associated with apparel waste, intensified by fast fashion, have been piling up for years and gaining increased attention. A site in Chile’s Atacama Desert has become known for mountains of used apparel, and study after study shows the potential effects of plastic microfiber pollution on ecosystems and human health.

Many apparel brands now use polyester made from post-consumer PET bottles in an effort to improve the sector’s sustainability. But using waste PET as apparel feedstock is “not a perfect solution,” said Rachel Kibbe, CEO of the consultancy Circular Services Group. In 2022, along with resellers, fashion brands and other supply chain partners, Kibbe convened the American Circular Textiles group to advocate for new fashion policies.

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