How does Polyester fair environmentally and socially as a material?

The agents used in the manufacture of polyester fibre are products of the petrochemical industry.
Petroleum products are not solely used as feedstock, other fossil fuels are used to provide energy; the consumption of energy has far-reaching environmental implications, the most serious of which include climate change and ozone depletion.

In general terms, water consumption in the production of manufactured fibres is lower than for natural fibres. Polyester for example, can be processed by several routes, some requiring no water.

In terms of emissions to air and water arising from the production of polyester fibres, the presence of a number of substrates have been identified which are perceived to have a medium to high potential of causing environmental damage if discharged untreated. These include:
- heavy metal cobalt and manganese salts;
- sodium bromide;
- titanium dioxide;
- antimony oxide;
- acetaldehyde.

(Source: Kate Fletcher, 1999 www.demi.org.uk)