SPW Fabrics

Recycled Fabrics: Sustainable Sports

Tejidos Reciclados

The plastic production grows every year. Only in 2017, 400 million tons of virgin plastic were produced, 99% of which comes from chemical products derived from petroleum, a polluting and non-renewable raw material.

The main problem is not only how much plastic we assemble or how we normally produce it, but the use we give to it and how we manage its residues. Regarding its use, half of the plastic we produce is designed to be used only once. For example: a million plastic bottles are sold every minute.

Only 9% of the plastic produced is recycled, 12% is incinerated and the remaining 79% ends up in landfills or in the ecosystem.

(Source: World Environment Day).

All of these factors contribute to the accumulation of plastic waste in nature. It is estimated that if we continue behaving this way, in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Given this situation, people are increasingly aware of changing their consumption habits, looking for more ethical products with less environmental impact.

Adaptation of the textile industry

Recycled Fabrics

Until a few years ago, the textile industry was part of the problem, but now it is part of the solution. The environmental problem generated by plastics, added to the growing demand on “eco-friendly” clothing, has pushed textile companies to transform their production chains, adapting them to a circular economy, and allowing them to create and develop environmentally friendly products. 

Thus, in recent years, its main strategy has been the development and manufacture of recycled fabrics to give a new life to plastic waste, helping it not to end up in our ecosystems but in durable and high quality garments.

Why should you use recycled fabrics in Sports?

The textile industry, specifically the Sports industry, can play a key role in this change. Due to the technical and performance requirements of sportswear, most textile products are made with synthetic fabrics, therefore it is a market that, using recycled fabrics, has the ability to dispose of a large volume of plastic waste.

Technologies have come a long way in recycling plastic and turning it into fibers, and its variety and quality are practically identical to the fibers created from virgin plastic, allowing the creation of all types of fabrics that have the same characteristics and qualities than the non-recycled ones. Consequently, the use of recycled technical fabrics in sports does not mean a decrease in the quality of the garments and, therefore, does not affect the performance of the athlete.

We can recycle 70 plastic bottles with each meter of fabric.

As we have previously mentioned, sports has a great capacity to give plastics a new use. For example, with one meter of fabric you can produce a simple sports shirt, and then, with that meter of fabric we can recycle 70 plastic bottles. Also, with polyamide, one meter of recycled polyamide has the capacity to reuse 135g of fishing nets. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics are much more resistant than natural ones, so much more durable garments will be created and, once they reach the end of their useful life, polyester and polyamide products will be very easy to recycle.

Types of recycled fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are the most common for sports, this is why we are going to focus on them: 

  • We can classify recycled polyester fabrics by their origin as it follows:
    • Plastic waste (post-consumer): mostly plastic bottles. Prevent this waste from ending up in our ecosystem.
    • Waste from the sea (post-consumer): made from plastics, mostly bottles, collected at sea by fishermen or specialized companies. The Seaqual Organization is 100% committed to collecting this waste. SPW Fabrics, in collaboration with Seaqual , produces recycled fabrics with marine debris.
    • Recycled textiles (post-consumer): clothing or products that are reconverted into yarn with which the fabrics are rewoven.
    • Industrial waste (pre-consumption): such as surpluses, defects or waste from the textile industry.
  • Recycled polyamide fabrics also come from different sources:
    • Fishing nets (post-consumer): they can come from nets collected at sea, although they are very scarce, or from old nets discarded by fishermen.
    • Recycled textiles (post-consumer): clothing or products that are reconverted into yarn with which the fabrics are rewoven.
    • Industrial waste (pre-consumption): such as surpluses, defects or waste from the textile industry.

Advantages of recycled fabrics

The main advantage of recycled fabrics is that they prevent a large amount of plastics from ending up in our ecosystem. Still, there are a few more advantages to mention. 

Because of the recycled polyester fabrics we give a new and more durable life to single-use plastics that would otherwise end up on our landfills, forests, or oceans. Most of the plastic waste that we dispose of on land, ends up in the sea through rivers. It is estimated that, each year, 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans.

Moreover, recycled polyamide fabrics prevent many of the nets used by fishermen from ending up in the ocean and becoming so-called ghost nets, which trap plenty of marine life as it goes.

It is estimated that each year 640.000 tons of nets end up in the oceans, where they take about 600 years to decompose.

Lastly, another important advantage is the amount of resources we save by manufacturing recycled fabrics. On one hand, because we create them from non-virgin materials. On the other hand, we save a lot of energy resources:

  • Water consumption in the manufacture of recycled fabrics is reduced by 20%
  • Power consumption drops by 50%
  • CO2 emissions drop by 60%

SPW Fabrics with recycling

At SPW Fabrics we are committed with the sustainability. Being aware of the problem posed by plastic pollution, we are adapting our offer to the changing times. We have developed 9 new products made of recycled polyester. All of them made of post-consumed plastics and 2 of them made with Seaqual thread that comes from recycled marine plastic waste. Our short-term goal is to develop 11 new recycled fabrics throughout this year, progressively increasing production to reach 50 different ones by 2025. Furthermore, this new year, we have achieved the GRS (Estándar Global de Reciclaje) certification.

Recycled polyester fabrics

Likewise, we offer elastic and/or compressive recycled fabrics that combine polyester with Lycra®. On one hand, we can find the R+Tour, a very light mesh perfect for t-shirt accessories that provides breathability on the most needed areas. On the other hand, we have got three different fabrics ideals to produce elastic and comfortable t-shirts and pants. Firstly, R+Carmen, a smoothmicrofiber knit fabric that provides a lot of comfort to the athlete. Secondly, R+Merida, a 2.0 fine gauge interlock that, thanks to its Clean Cut, technology, allows clean cut finished on garments. Finally, R+Ariel, a fabric made from sea/ocean-recycled polyester Seaqual, also with a 2.0 fine gauge, which provides a higher degree of coverage while maintaining its lightness.

Recycled Fabrics
577501 R+Lewis: lightweight and comfortable

Furthermore, we also offer 100% recycled polyester fabrics for different applications.  R+Fresno, a highly breathable fabric suitable for sports shirts, with Dryclim technology. For running shirts, we can find the R+Lewis, a fabric that due to its lightness and structure, will provide a high comfort. The R+Aliance, a very resistant and light fabric ideal for light rugby t-shirts. For cycling and running accessories, we have the R+Clark, a mini-mesh that will provide breathability, and R+Tritón, another fabric composed of Seaqual fibers.

Recycled polyamide fabrics

Last, we offer a pre-consumer recycled polyamide fabric for the swimwear market. R+Fenix, a plain knit fabric with 20% Lycra®, perfect for bikins and swimsuits.

Apart from the fabrics that we offer on our collection, we work one in one with our customers and develop recycled fabrics customized to their needs. Thanks to the wide variety of recycled fibers and their quality, we can develop any fabric with the same guarantees and qualities as the non-recycled fabrics.

Ultimately, the world has awakened and great changes are already becoming evident, but we need to keep going on this direction. Check out our recycled fabrics and get in touch with us to give plastic waste a new life. Lead the change now.