Standard printed flags (digital or screen) and handsewn flags are made from a material called polyester. It is the same fabric used to make nearly half of the world’s clothing.
Polyester is defined as ‘a synthetic resin in which the polymer units are linked by ester groups, used chiefly to make synthetic textile fibres.’
Putting aside the chemical jargon, polyester is a common plastic with a wide range of applications.
To make the polyester into fibres, the plastic is heated and forced through spinnerets into fibres in a process called melt spinning. The fibres are stretched to five times their length, typically combined into yarn then weaved or knitted into polyester fabrics.
Polyester fabrics are strong, lightweight, easy to clean, resistant to shrinkage and stretching and can be used indoors or outdoors, making them perfect for clothing and flags.
More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. Petroeum products are used as the raw material and the energy source to create the product. Therefore, polyester is made from a carbon-intensive non-renewable resource.
Polyester requires twice the energy of conventional cotton to produce. It uses harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, that if emitted to water or air untreated, could cause significant environmental damage.
Polyester is not biodegradable, meaning it will take between 20 and 200 years to decompose. It is believed that synthetic garments are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans because up to 1900 fibres can be washed off one garment every time it is washed.
However, polyester is recyclable which means the 850,000 tonnes of textiles that end up in landfill could be avoided.
At Harrison’s we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment. We make it our mission to source or develop eco friendly alternatives wherever possible. We are proud to be the first UK supplier to offer a range of environmentally flag material and products.
By working with a leading fabric manufacturer, we were able to develop Enviroflag™, an environmentally friendly flag material.
This revolutionary environmentally friendly flag material is made from recycled plastic items, such as single use PET plastic bottles, and industrial polyester waste. The waste is melted down into chips, then spun into yarn that is knitted to form a material. Enviroflag has the same durability, strength and versatility of it’s knitted polyester equivalent, but with a much lower environmental impact.
Enviroflag doesn’t require new petroleum for its creation, therefore lowering the demand for petroleum extraction and reducing its overall carbon footprint. Producing the Enviroflag material is also better for the climate, creating 75% less CO₂ emissions than virgin polyester. It also meets the requirements for the OEKO-TEX® 100 standards and is free from toxic elements.
We are the first UK supplier to offer a Fabric Upcycling Scheme. Our aim is that 100% of the fabric we print is recycled or upcycled. We ask that any used flags are returned to us so we can turn them back into useful items and give them a new lease of life. They are transformed into shopping bags, sports bags and tote bags that are ideal to purchase for giveaways. We also produce dog toys that are donated to our local dog re-homing charity FLOOF and are available to purchase for your pooch at home.
Polyester flags can also be recycled with standard textile waste at your local recycling centre.