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Patagonia to Make Shell Outerwear Line With Recycled Materials, Fair Trade Factories

All of Patagonia’s waterproof shells—61 styles of jackets—are now made with recycled materials and sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories.

The outdoor specialist said this covers all product categories, from Alpine and Snow to Lifestyle and Kids, and is a first for the industry, according to Corey Simpson, communications manager for product and sport community at Patagonia.

Simpson noted that the journey to get to this point actually started in 1993, when Patagonia made its first fleece jacket from fabric derived from recycled soda bottles.

“Yet converting the entire collection of shells over to be made with recycled materials wasn’t easy,” he said. “The excuses were endless–it’s too hard, too expensive, nobody makes the fabric, it doesn’t perform…But today we are here to tell you, none of those excuses hold up.”

The company explained that the jackets begin as a recycled plastic chip in Italy and Slovenia. Yarn spun from these chips is woven and finished in Japan, with the final garment cut and sewn in Vietnam.

“The conversion to using recycled materials in each and every shell was slow and gradual, then sudden,” Simpson said. “We’ve now reached a point where we can draw a line in the sand that every shell uses recycled fabrics and is Fair Trade Certified sewn, or we simply don’t make it.”

Patagonia has partnered and launched Fair Trade programs in every factory that sews these shells, supporting workers who make the product.

Simpson noted that that global supply chain might seem like a leading source of greenhouse gas pollution, but most of Patagonia’s carbon emissions, 97 percent, come from the supply chain before shipping. For example, creating virgin synthetic fibers accounts for 86 percent of those emissions.

“The more recycled fabrics we make, the closer we’ll get to carbon neutrality across our entire business by 2025,” Simpson said. “This collection of recycled shells is a step in that direction.”

In addition, removing plastic from the waste stream is an important environmental component, as an estimated 91 percent of all plastic waste has never been recycled. To that end, Patagonia is dedicating an entire Patagonia gear issue to recycling.