Improving traceability in the recycled polyester supply chain

Improving traceability in the recycled polyester supply chain

Prove the credibility of recycled polyester and build market CONFIDENCE

“Sustainability and transparency are at the heart of the REO-ECO business. TÜV SÜD’s Recycled Content Certification has enabled us to independently substantiate the authenticity of our recycled products, thereby enhancing our clients’ confidence.”

Mr. Ivan Yip

CEO, REO-ECO Recycle Tech 

Recycled polyester (rPET) gives a second life to non-biodegradable material that would otherwise end up in landfill or the ocean, and its production requires 59 percent less energy than newly produced polyester1. The UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action (FICCA) and US Textile Exchange have therefore launched the 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge, encouraging the apparel industry to increase its use of recycled polyester from 14% to 45% by 2025.

 rPET is becoming increasingly popular amongst fashion brands that want to create higher value-added articles with recycled materials and meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers. 


Traceability challenges

rPET is obtained by melting down plastics (e.g. PET bottles) and converting it to polyester fibres. However, testing by a leading German laboratory revealed that some clothing items had zero recycled content, while those that did contain recycled polyester had significantly less than advertised on the label. 

As the textile industry supply chain is very long, and may involve a wide range of geographical areas, ensuring the reliability of the recycled material source and the product traceability presents a significant challenge. Textile and apparel related enterprises must be able to substantiate claims about recycled polyester content and verify that they are getting the right fibre they ordered and paid for. Marketers must also ensure that all interpretations of their claims are truthful, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis. Otherwise, they are at risk of violating laws that protect consumers against false or deceptive marketing claims.

A series of testing and verification on products and factories by authoritative third-party certifications and testing companies, which issue certificates to prove the credibility of recycled content information, will help the rPET industry to build the confidence of consumers and market regulators.


REO-ECO enhances client confidence in rPET 

REO-ECO specialises in synthetic fabrics R&D and production, producing rPET woven fabric and filament yarn. It is also a member of the Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organisation that aims to positively impact the climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibres across the global textile industry.

The sustainability of REO-ECO’s products and transparency of its manufacturing processes are at the very heart of the business. It therefore recognised how TÜV SÜD’s Recycled Content Certification (RCC) service could help it to substantiate its recycled claims via audit and testing, thereby enhancing its clients’ confidence in the authenticity of REO-ECO rPET products.

TÜV SÜD’s RCC service helps enterprises identify recycled content in products. This includes a certification mark on products to demonstrate an organisation’s efforts and actions in contributing to a circular economy. This enables them to practice their commitment to closed-loop recycling, eliminates false environmental protection-oriented marketing, and conveys confidence to consumers and market regulators. 


TÜV SÜD’s certification mark for softlines recycled content 

This voluntary certification mark for products (footwear, apparel, accessories and home textiles) demonstrates that the reliability of the product’s recycled content claim has been independently tested and certified. The certification mark is only awarded to the products made from recycled materials that undergo inspection by TÜV SÜD and comply with the criteria quoted below.

Recycled content
The product’s recycled content claim has been certified through the whole supply chain verification and lab testing (for recycled polyester sourced form rPET bottles only). There are three levels of the recycled content claim, which are 0.05% – 25%, 25% - 75% and >75%.

Recycled polyester tested 
For the recycled polyester sourced from rPET bottles, the recycled polyester content claimed on the product has been tested according to TÜV SÜD’s inhouse method.

Production monitored
TÜV SÜD verifies that the manufacturer can maintain consistent quality in line with the requirements throughout high-volume production and has established the necessary quality system. In addition, calibration of the necessary measuring and monitoring equipment must be ensured. Surveillance and/or monitoring covers the testing of safety-critical components and other materials used. 

Besides the factory surveillance content of TÜV SÜD Mark Certification, TÜV SÜD also performed verification (including document and onsite verification) of the product’s entire supply chain - beginning from the recycling facility and ending at the certified product manufacturing.

1.Recycled Textile Fibres and Textile Recycling. An overview of the market and its possibilities for Public Procurers in Switzerland. Commissioned by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). December 2017




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