Good for our seas, good for you!

From 2023 on, Pro-Tent will only use certified recycled polyester fabrics for producing its roofs and side walls. In an interview, Pro-Tent CEO Beat Bär explains the motives and provides facts worth knowing about.

What exactly is recycled polyester and how is it made?

Beat Bär: Polyester is an umbrella term for synthetic plastics based on polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This substance is extracted from crude oil. It is used to make plastic bottles, foils or even textile fibres, for example. This means that polyester is not exactly a sustainable material. In the case of recycled polyester, the used plastics - usually PET bottles - are first mechanically shredded and then converted into granulate, which is then used to produce a new fibre.

What speaks for using recycled polyester from an ecological point of view?

Beat Bär: One advantage of recycled polyester is that it reduces dependence on petroleum, as no new polyester needs to be produced. In other words: We use what is already there - after all, that’s the basic idea of sustainability.

By using plastic waste to produce new fibres, the environmental balance is also improved: Around 60% less energy is needed and experts estimate that even around 32% of CO2 emissions can be saved if polyester is recycled instead of newly produced.

Another advantage: Recycling prevents plastic from ending up in landfills and in our oceans. Especially the pollution of the seas is a growing problem that really worries me as a passionate sailor. If we continue on the path we are currently on, it is feared that the amount of microplastics in the oceans could increase 50-fold by the end of the century. This is exactly why we need to move away from single-use plastic and as quickly as possible.

The recycled polyester fabrics used by Pro-Tent bear the GRS seal. What does this certification stand for?

Beat Bär: The criteria of the Global Recycled Standard, abbreviated GRS, stipulate that the recycled materials can be precisely traced. In addition, the GRS sets production standards to reduce harmful effects on humans and the environment. Only if these standards are met does a product receive the GRS seal. It thus stands not only for ecological but also for social responsibility, which we at Pro-Tent face up to and take seriously.

Do the recycled fabrics used by Pro-Tent have to meet specific specifications?

Beat Bär: Indeed they do. Just like the conventional fabric quality we have processed so far, we place special demands on the recycled fabrics in terms of their functionality, outdoor suitability and durability. To this end, we worked with the manufacturer in a three-year development and test phase to repeatedly check and further optimise the fabrics until we were really satisfied with the result and our strict quality specifications were met without any restrictions.

Are the recycled fabrics more expensive compared to conventional polyester fabrics?

Beat Bär: Due to the complex manufacturing process, the price for the fabrics is about 10 % higher than the previous product. However, only about 50 % of these additional costs are included in the calculation of our roofs and side walls, which are only slightly more expensive as a result. We see the remaining additional costs as an investment in the long-term, sustainable orientation of the Pro-Tent brand.

Does this mean that the conversion is part of a long-term overall strategy?

Beat Bär: That's right. As a company, we are aware of our economic, ecological and social responsibility and act accordingly. This requires clear principles, long-term goals and diverse measures in all areas of the company. We support the Global Goals defined by the United Nations in 2015 and focus on those we believe we can make the greatest possible contribution to. These include climate protection measures and sustainable production. In this context, the switch to recycled polyester is an important step for us on our way to more sustainability.

What are the next steps on this path?

Beat Bär: The Second Life idea is particularly close to our hearts. One of the challenges of the next few years will be to launch a well thought-out and coherent overall concept for Pro-Tent with regard to a more sustainable consumption situation. In addition, the path to more sustainability requires ongoing efforts, which also include many small steps. We will keep you posted!

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