PLASTICS | part 1
Polyester is a synthetic fiber derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum. Developed in a 20th-century laboratory, polyester fibers are formed from a chemical reaction between an acid and alcohol. In this reaction, two or more molecules combine to make a large molecule whose structure repeats throughout its length. Polyester fibers can form very long molecules that are very stable and strong. [source: www.madehow.com]
Polyester is used in the manufacture of many products, including clothing, home furnishings, industrial fabrics, computer and recording tapes, and electrical insulation. Polyester has several advantages over traditional fabrics such as cotton – it does not absorb moisture but does absorb oil; this quality makes polyester the perfect fabric for the application of water, soil and flame retardant finishes.
Its low absorbency also makes it naturally resistant to stains. Polyester clothing can be pre-shrunk in the finishing process, and thereafter the fabric resists shrinking and will not stretch out of shape. The fabric is easily dyeable and not damaged by mildew. Textured polyester fibres are an effective, non-allergenic insulator, so the material is used for filling pillows, quilting, outerwear and sleeping bags. [source: www.wikipedia.com]
Where would we be without polyester in the textile world?
As a raw material, polyester is a chemical term which can be broken into poly; meaning many, and ester; a basic organic chemical compound. The principle ingredient used in the manufacture of polyester is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. In this process, ethylene is the polymer; the chemical building block of polyester, and the chemical process that produces the finished polyester is called polymerization. [source: www.wikipedia.com]
PET is the most widely produced plastic in the world. It is used predominantly as a fiber (known by the trade name “polyester”) and for bottling or packaging. For example, PET is the plastic used for bottled water and is highly recyclable.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET).
Enough of the chemistry!……polyester no doubt is an enigma and versatile in all aspects of our daily lives.
It’s quite apparent that faux fur, faux leather and faux suede, are among this fall’s hottest trends. From red-carpet celebrities to runway models to fashionistas on city streets, it seems everyone is sporting jackets, vests, boots and handbags made from these modern plastic materials. And it’s no surprise: fashions using animal fur, leather and suede have been popular for a long time, but their newer plastic counterparts offer the same great style but with numerous advantages.
In part 2, we will delve into the environmental impacts of plastics and the efforts taken to reduce these.