Everything You Need To Know About Certified Recycled,
Eco-friendly Face Masks
There is no question that there has been a concerted effort worldwide to adopt more eco-friendly habits and lifestyles. These efforts include the repurposing of worn out items, banning of plastic cutlery, and much more. A particular point of interest, however, is the fashion/textiles industry.
The fast-fashion world has come under fire for their synthetic-fibre containing garments, which don’t ever degrade or decay. This only leads to greater amounts of waste at the landfill and pollution in our waters. Disposable masks have become the new plastic pollution.
Adding to these environmentally harmful activities is Coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in endless disposable face masks being thrown out. This creates a dangerous risk to water sources and animals in diverse habitats.
In a study done at the University College London, it was found that the most eco-friendly way to protect one's mouth and face to use a reusable mask. While using reusable face masks might seem like a quick and easy fix in and of itself, there’s another step that can significantly reduce environmental impact: using face masks made from recycled materials.
Eco-friendly face masks: Waste turned to fabric!
- Post-consumer goods: any items that are already made, such as garments and household items
- Pre-consumer goods: essentially scraps of by-products from fabric manufacturing
How these materials get recycled depends on whether or not they are made of natural or synthetic fibres. Further sorting is also done based on colour. Once properly sorted, these items can then be pulled/shredded into fibres, which are then cleaned and processed. Finally, the fibres can be rewoven or knitted into new textiles.
Often, synthetic fibres cannot always be spun into yarn. In the case of polyester textiles, these are then broken down into polyester chips, which are then melted and can be used to create new fibres for polyester-based items.
Plastic Bottles to Fabric
There have been several concerns that using recycled plastics or waste is dangerous. Some people worry that when people breathe in the repurposed items, absorb them in the skin, or wash them, they potentially release toxins.
However, Dr. Martin Mulvihill, a researcher at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry and expert in potential exposure to harmful chemicals, explains that fibres that are composed of materials such as plastic water-bottles are cleaned thoroughly and tested to ensure that all heavy metals, suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals, and other potential contaminants are removed or else present only in negligible quantities.
Benefits of using face masks made from recycled materials
One of the main benefits of using recycled textiles is that they reduce the amount of plastics that would likely go into landfills or the ocean. Each year, the amount of microplastics and waste that ends up in natural habitats and water bodies rises by dangerous amounts.
It’s estimated that plastic will eventually outnumber the amount of fish in the ocean by 2050. Being able to divert much of that plastic into new items, particularly textile items that can be used for longer periods of time, such as face masks, is a key way to ensure we do our part in reducing overall waste.
Another benefit of recycled textiles is that recycled textiles such as polyester in particular, hold up just as well as virgin polyester in terms of structural integrity, but use less natural resources to make.
Considering that polyester accounts for about 60% of global production of PET (polyethylene terephthalate, the most common type of plastic in the world), using non-virgin plastic supply chains ensures much less of a harmful effect on global energy and resource consumption.
In short, using recycled textiles is not only safe for human use, but also contributes to fewer resources/energy being depleted as well as less waste in landfills and our oceans.
What's the difference between certified recycled polyester and non-certified recycled material?
With all of the different forms of recycling and many buzz-words often thrown around, it can be difficult to often verify the accuracy of the claims being made around the integrity of recycled textiles.
The founders of Two Sisters on a Mission and OEcotextiles explain that there is often no way for many claimants of green companies to actually prove that they use recycled textiles. For example, once polyester chips are melted down, there is no way to prove what source they came from. Because the process of recycling textiles such as polyester is often equally if not more expensive than using virgin polyester, there may be countless textile companies making false claims of recycling.
Properly certified recycled material can be verified using various methods. There are certain certifications or seals that will prove whether or not a company is using certified recycled material. Different nations and production industries use other certifications standards.
Two well-known certifications that ensure a company is using certified recycled material are the Global Recycled Standard and the Recycled Claim Standard. While there are slightly varying criteria in order for these certifications to be met, in general the requirements involve supply chain transparency that is proven to use recycled materials, a third party to approve a company’s environmental statement, and third party testing of the recycled contents of any intermediate and finished products.
Masked For Work’s eco-friendly and ethical face masks
At Masked For Work, the outer layer of all of our masks are made with Recycleve™, certified recycled material. Unlike most mask companies, we develop the material ourselves!
Our award-winning facility not only oversees the entire production process from beginning to end, but they also specialize in developing and producing goods using certified recycled material because they integrate sustainable practices in their operations.
To transform plastic into fabric, the plastic is melted into a thread that can be used for production. Machines pull the material and they are spun into a thread. Plastic bottles are repurposed rather than going into a landfill.
In addition to reducing our emissions in the production of masks, we provide excellent working conditions for the staff in our facility. In addition to a safe working environment, we pay above living wage. This is an important aspect as many organizations practice ethical sourcing in their operations.
The use of textiles made up of recycled materials reduce the need for extracting new and precious resources. This lessens the amount of waste going into our environment and the amount of harmful emissions. Textile items that perform just as well as any non-recycled textiles would, with less environmental impact.
This is why getting masks made with recycled materials can be beneficial for the environment while keeping you safe. The outer layer of all our masks are made with Recycleve™, certified recycled polyester. You can stay safe and reduce environmental impact.