The Environmental Impacts of Synthetic Textiles

The Environmental Impacts of Synthetic Textiles

What Are The Impacts?

Synthetic textiles, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, are widely used in the industry due to their low cost and versatility. However, the production process and the end life of synthetic textiles has a significant environmental impact. This blog will explore the environmental impacts of synthetic textiles and suggest some alternative materials that are more sustainable.

Environmental Impacts of Synthetic Textiles:

silver synthetic shirt

The production of synthetic textiles starts with the extraction of raw materials, which requires a significant amount of energy and resources. For example, polyester is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and requires large amounts of energy to produce. 

Nylon production also involves the use of petroleum and emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases. The production of acrylic requires large amounts of energy and releases toxic chemicals into the environment.

In addition, the production of synthetic textiles involves a range of chemicals and processes that contribute to environmental pollution. The dyeing and finishing of synthetic textiles involve toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, chlorine, and heavy metals. These chemicals not only pollute the environment but also pose health risks to workers in textile factories and people who wear the clothes.

Furthermore, the disposal of synthetic textiles presents a significant environmental challenge on its own.
Synthetic textiles are non-biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. When synthetic textiles do eventually break down, they release microplastics into the environment, which are harmful to wildlife and marine life.

Alternatives to Synthetic Textiles:

Raw Cotton Plant

To address the environmental impact of synthetic textiles, the fashion industry needs to shift towards more sustainable materials. Here are some alternative materials that are more environmentally friendly:

  1. Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, reducing the environmental impact of cotton production. Organic cotton also uses less water than conventional cotton and is biodegradable.
  2. Hemp: Hemp is a highly sustainable material that requires less water and pesticides than conventional cotton. Hemp is also biodegradable and can be grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers.
  3. Tencel: Tencel is a sustainable alternative to synthetic textiles such as polyester and nylon. Tencel is made from eucalyptus trees, which require less water than cotton, and the production process is closed-loop, meaning that the chemicals used can be recycled.
  4. Recycled Materials: Recycle your old clothes with RCYCL! Materials, such as recycled polyester and nylon, can help reduce the environmental impact of synthetic textiles. Recycled materials are made from post-consumer waste and require fewer resources to produce than new materials.

The fashion industry needs to take responsibility for its environmental impact and shift towards more sustainable materials. That’s why at RCYCL, we're dedicated to accepting all kinds of fibres for recycling, because we believe that every material can have a second chance at life.


Synthetics & Sustainable Synthetics: Global Production

What is Polyester Fabric: Properties, How its Made and Where

Synthetic Fiber 


Back to blog