The recycling process for end-of-life recycled polyester fabric typically involves the following steps:
Collection: The first step is to collect the end-of-life polyester fabric through various channels such as recycling centers, garment collection programs, or waste management systems. The fabric is sorted based on its composition to separate polyester fabrics from other materials.
Sorting and Cleaning: The collected polyester fabric undergoes a sorting process where any contaminants or non-polyester components, such as buttons or zippers, are removed. The fabric is then thoroughly cleaned to eliminate dirt, oils, or dyes.
Shredding: The cleaned polyester fabric is shredded into small pieces or flakes to increase the surface area and facilitate further processing. The shredding process can be mechanical or chemical, depending on the recycling technology used.
Melting and Extrusion: The shredded polyester flakes are melted down to form a liquid polymer. This molten polymer is then extruded through fine openings to create long fibers, which are solidified and cooled into thread-like strands.
Spinning: The extruded polyester strands are stretched and drawn to improve their strength and uniformity. This process aligns the polymer molecules, enhancing the quality and performance of the resulting yarn.
Textile Production: The recycled polyester yarn can now be used for various textile applications. It can be spun into new fabrics, knitted, or woven to create products like clothing, accessories, upholstery, and more. The recycled polyester yarn can be blended with other fibers for specific performance characteristics.
It's important to note that the recycling process may vary depending on the specific technology and machinery used by different recycling facilities. Advanced recycling technologies, such as chemical recycling, are also emerging, which can break down polyester fabric into its constituent monomers for the production of new polyester without degradation.
Recycled polyester fabrics offer environmental benefits by reducing the demand for virgin polyester production, conserving resources, and diverting waste from landfills.