<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Sustainable development
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Life cycle analysis for cotton and polyester


Fabric life cycle Fibre production Fabric weaving Use of fabric Disposal of fabric

Fibre production
  Polyester Cotton
Energy (megaJoules) 97 MJ 60 MJ
Oil or gas 1.5kg -
Fertilisers - 457g
Pesticides - 16g
Water 17 litres 22,200 litres
Carbon dioxide emissions 2.3kg 3.0kg
Approximate cost £0.78 £1.13

Click on the stages in the life cycle to compare the two fibres.









Figures relate to 1kg of fibre/fabric.

Summary of life cycle analysis

Over a lifetime of two years, which includes 12 washes, the results show how 1kg of each fabric performs.

Denim jacket


Polyester uses 171.5 megaJoules of energy.
Cotton uses 140.1 megaJoules of energy.


Oil and gas

To make 1kg of polyester takes 1.53kg of oil or gas.
Cotton grows naturally.


Fertilisers and pesticides

Growing 1kg of cotton uses 457g of fertilisers and 16g of pesticides.
Some growers are organic, and do not use chemicals, but this is less common.



1kg of polyester is responsible for 3.8kg of carbon dioxide while cotton causes 5.3kg.
Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain. Cotton results in 4g and polyester 0.2g.



Polyester uses 1,900 litres (including washes). Irrigating the cotton crops means 1kg requires 26,700 litres of water during its life.



Click here to rate the sustainability of each material.