Is recycled polyester a positive step in travel goods?

The journey of recycled polyester in travel bags

December 2nd, 2023 by Reverie & Rove

In this article. 

1. What is recycled polyester and should you care?

2. Top 5 pro's & con's of recycled polyester

3. Are we moving in a more sustainable direction?

In a world that's becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of our choices, the fashion and travel industries have begun undergoing a transformative shift toward sustainability.

Traditional polyester has had its run, mainly due to its roots in petroleum-based sources. The whole process of extracting and refining crude oil for virgin polyester based products with most ending in landfill has created the need for a change in direction.

So what is recycled polyester and why should I care ? Let’s explore why some of the biggest brands in the world are shifting how they manufacture in an effort to improve their environmental footprint.

Traditional polyester is a type of synthetic fibre invented in the 1930’s by James Dickson in an effort to create a material that was more durable, more comfortable, and more resistant to wrinkles than natural fabrics like cotton. Made from the extraction and refinement of crude oil through a process called polymerization, polyester fibres can be woven into many of the fabrics we use today, particularly when blended with cotton.

As polyester’s use has spread to many areas of textile manufacture, so has the environmental concern about the reliance on finite natural resources, harsh chemicals and energy intensive manufacturing processes to supply the world's goods.

Enter recycled polyester (RPET) - a step in the right direction in addressing sustainable manufacturing. By utilizing post-consumer plastic bottles or recycled polyester materials, we reduce the demand for new raw materials, offering a sustainable alternative that conserves our precious natural resources.

Below are the top 5 pro’s and con’s to recycled polyester. 


1. One of the most compelling aspects of recycled polyester is its ability to divert plastic waste from landfills and oceans. By upcycling existing plastic waste or polyester materials, we can have a significant impact on addressing the global issues of plastic pollution in our oceans, waterways and landfills.

2. Recycled polyester reduces the demand for new raw materials like crude oil from fossil fuels, helping to conserve natural resources and decrease dependence on non-renewable resources.

3. The process of breaking down and reprocessing existing polyester materials into new fibres consumes considerably less energy than the journey from crude oil to virgin polyester.

4. Recycled polyester like polyester is designed to be durable, breathable and quick drying. Recycling technologies have come a long way, this means that you're not sacrificing quality when you're looking for products like bags that need to be capable of standing up to wear and tear.

5. Recycled polyester fabrics don’t fade and are UV resistant, making them ideal for outdoor travel and lifestyle products.


1. Recycled polyester products can come with a higher initial cost due to the complexities of the recycling process and the sourcing of high-quality recyclable materials. Supplier minimum order quantities are generally high due to economies of scale. Recycled polyester products will come down in price over time as more people adopt the material change.

2. Risk of micro plastics - Like polyester, washing recycled polyester can shed microplastics which can end up in waterways and oceans. Luckily, it's not recommended to wash bags like you would clothes so microplastics are less of an issue to travel products.

3. Recycled polyester does not biodegrade - this means that unless it is recycled, it will take anywhere from 20 - 200 years to biodegrade in landfill. While there are some challenges in the recycling process, the technologies used in recycled polyester production are constantly improving, but it's not considered a hard task anymore.

4. Perceived quality - Despite technological advancements, some people still perceive recycled polyester to be inferior quality. Advances in recycling technology have rendered this untrue but consumer demand can be a barrier to adoption, keeping the cost high for recycled materials.

5. Chemical recycling - The polyester polymers can be broken down to remove colorants and other contaminants enabling polyester to be recycled which mechanical recycling may not be able to separate. Chemical recycling is more energy intensive than traditional mechanical recycling but provides greater environmental savings.

What's Next

While there are some significant benefits to moving to recycled polyester, it's by no means the utopian solution to the worlds textile waste challenges. 

It is hard to deny through that recycled polyester is a huge step in the right direction, with many designers innovating to embrace the circular economy and consider the full lifecycle of their products' journey. 

What Reverie & Rove products are made using recycled polyester?

The Drift Weekend Duffle Bag