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Taking polyester recycling beyond bottles - SAYA RSCUW

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Discerning consumers have come to expect at least some percentage of recycled content in the apparel or gear they purchase, and they readily show their support of their favorite sustainable brands with their wallets. Designers have upped their standards as well, wanting recycled content to include performance enhancements including antimicrobial treatments, stretch and more vibrant color. As a result, manufacturers are finding recycled PET has become a commodity.

This shift in the market demand, along with a desire to lend their expertise and raise the bar toward a more sustainable textile industry, is what inspired SAYA. A new name in polyester fiber, SAYA began to investigate alternate sources to create recycled PET. The Taiwan based manufacturer, which operates under Nan Ya Plastics Corp, a leader in the renewal fiber industry, did not need to look far. Forgotten and hidden away in warehouses across the globe are millions of yards of overstock fabric, estimated to be 15% of the fabric produced annually. In addition, cutting scrap, an inevitable part of garment manufacturing, results in up to 25% wastage per yard. In the past most of these scraps were downcycled and ended up in landfills or incinerators as there are no commercially effective methods of recycling them. Together overstock fabric and cutting scrap result in a huge amount of industrial waste, which can’t be ignored any longer.

SAYA’s engineering team, committed to finding a solution, developed a proprietary method to sort, clean and both mechanically and chemically recycle this leftover waste into new polyester fiber. Removing colors, pigments and finishings from fabrics is a difficult task and previous technology has been extremely expensive and price prohibitive. SAYA’s team was able to make this commercially available and affordable.

The result is SAYA RSCUW, a recycled polyester fiber from cutting scrap that is bleached and dyeable to whatever vibrant color the brand chooses. SAYA RSCUW can be enhanced with performance treatments to provide stretch, color protection and it is available in ultrafine microfiber filaments.

At this time SAYA RSCUW is limited to 100% polyester fabric cutting scraps without coating nor finishes. Continued research is increasing the percentage of overstock waste and types of coatings and finishings for a more inclusive solution.

An interesting result of skipping the chemical treatment in the recycling process is RSCUW RAW, which retains a tint of original yardage color. Without the bleaching and re-dyeing, the process to manufacture RSCUW RAW is more energy efficient and the carbon footprint is further reduced. The resulting knit or woven fabric has a unique heathered effect in shades from grey to copper.

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