Analysis of the polyester clothing value chain to identify key intervention points for sustainability

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Clothing is one of the primary human needs, and the demand is met by the global production of thousands of tons of textile fibers, fabrics and garments every day. Polyester clothing manufactured from oil-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the market leader. Conventional PET creates pollution along its entire value chain—during the production, use and end-of-life phases—and also contributes to the unsustainable depletion of resources. The consumption of PET garments thus compromises the quality of land, water and air, destroys ecosystems, and endangers human health. In this article, we discuss the different stages of the value chain for polyester clothing from the perspective of sustainability, describing current environmental challenges such as pollution from textile factory wastewater, and microfibers released from clothing during the laundry cycle. We also consider potential solutions such as enhanced reuse and recycling. Finally, we propose a series of recommendations that should be applied to polyester clothing at all stages along the value chain, offering the potential for meaningful and effective change to improve the environmental sustainability of polyester textiles on a global scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages25
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2021


  • Value chain
  • Life Cycle
  • Recycling
  • PET
  • Textiles
  • Pollution
  • Microfibers

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