Unifi Inc., a manufacturer of recycled and synthetic yarns, marked a major sustainability milestone, this month having now transformed more than 30 billion post-consumer plastic bottles into its Repreve recycled performance fibers that are used by hundreds of brands.
“Our brand and mill partners helped us achieve this ambitious goal,” Unifi CEO Eddie Ingle said. “By making the switch to sustainable by choosing to use Repreve we’ve been able to keep more than 30 billion plastic bottles out of landfills. We want to thank consumers for choosing to buy products ranging from apparel to home furnishings to shoes made with Repreve. Together, we are working today for the good of tomorrow.”
Unifi began setting recycling goals in 2017 after hitting the 10 billion bottle milestone. The company pledged to transform 20 billion bottles by 2020 and 30 billion bottles by 2022.
When Greesnboro, N.C.-based Unifi launched Repreve, it was initially adopted by only two brands–now more than 1,000 brands worldwide use the recycled performance fibers. Repreve fiber sales are approaching 40 percent of Unifi’s total sales, with that number expected to continue to grow in the coming year.
Unifi’s net sales for the first quarter ended Sept. 26 rose 38.5 percent to $196 million. Revenues from Repreve recycled fiber products represented 37 percent of net sales, an uptick of $20.3 million from the first quarter of fiscal 2021.
Unifi noted that the 30 billion bottles used to create Repreve recycled polyester fiber, instead of the virgin equivalent, can save enough energy to power nearly 284,000 homes in the United States for one year.
“We’re committed to being an impactful change leader,” said James Cooper, Unifi sustainability manager. “We anticipate companies will continue to make the switch to Repreve, enabling us to increase recycling rates and giving plastic bottles a second life. As we look to the future, we will expand to additional brands and applications in addition to developing circular programs that allow existing textiles to be transformed into new textiles.”