Unifi to expand recycling center

Officials gather for a groundbreaking for the 85,000-square-foot expansion of Unifi’s Repreve Recyling Center in Yadkinville. They are, from left, Barry Shore, polyester operations manager for Unifi; Tom Caudle, vice president of Manufacturing for Unifi; Roger Berrier, president and chief operating officer for Unifi; Bill Jasper, chairman and chief executive officer for Unifi; Bobby Todd, president of Economic Development Partnership and executive director of Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce; and Barry Hennings, president of Omega Construction.

Last week, officials at Unifi held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 85,000-square-foot addition to the REPREVE recycling center which is expected to add an estimated 18 to 20 new jobs for Yadkin County.

According to a press release from the company, the $10 million expansion project will increase capacity to produce 60 million pounds of its recycled fiber brand and other products.

Unifi has been one of the primary manufacturing companies in Yadkin County since 1971 and its REPREVE brand which uses recycled plastic water bottles to make polyester yarn is a great source of pride both for the company and community.

“Unifi has been a great community citizen in Yadkin County since their beginnings in the 1970s and has provided employment opportunities for many in Yadkin County and the area,” said Bobby Todd of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce in a past interview about the local plant. “The development of REPREVE and the utilization of recycled products shows the commitment of Unifi to be a ‘green’ company while continuing to grow and prosper.”

While giving a tour of the facility earlier this year, operations manager Barry Shore explained how recycling facilities clean and sort bottles and chop them into small flakes which Unifi purchases and then melts down and extrudes into yarn. That yarn is then used to create apparel and upholstery.

Some of the apparel brands using REPREVE yarn are Polartec, The North Face, Patagonia, Quicksilver, Hagar and others.

“Being able to see clothing in major retailers with the REPREVE hang tag attached is a source of pride, knowing that the base material was made right here,” said Todd. “Their investment in technology, equipment and people is one of the reasons they have been successful.”

The company not only creates a product using recycled materials, but also works hard to recycle all the other items, even food scraps from their cafeteria, at the Yadkinville plant. A mission of creating an environmentally conscious product is important to company officials and they are pleased at the growth they are seeing.

“We are very encouraged by the continued growth of REPREVE and the opportunities it brings for Unifi and our customers,” said Roger Berrier, president and chief operating officer of Unifi, Inc. “This investment affirms our commitment to sustainability, and allows us to provide increased resources for the needs of our customers.”

According to the company’s press release on the expansion, “the additional investment in the REPREVE Recycling Center will support the growth of REPREVE as a result of new and expanding value-added programs with customers, and increased consumer demand for environmentally responsible products.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory also praised Unifi for the innovative work they are doing and for creating more jobs in the local economy.

“Unifi’s expansion underscores its continued growth and commitment to textiles in North Carolina,” said McCrory. “We welcome these new jobs and the investment in Yadkin County, as well as the continued development of North Carolina-based innovation.”

Pilot Mountain-based Omega Construction, Inc. will be handling the project which is expected to be completed in the spring of next year.

The release states that, “as part of Unifi’s company-wide commitment to sustainability, the REPREVE Recycling Center was built with environmental benefits in mind. The addition will aim to incorporate many of the same sustainable features as the original building, such as skylights to take advantage of natural sunlight, energy-efficient light fixtures, low-flow fixtures for reduced water usage and building materials comprised of recycled content.

“Adding to the focus on sustainability, a newly installed solar farm could provide roughly 10 percent of the energy at the REPREVE Recycling Center. The solar farm has a 1-megawatt capacity and sits on six acres of land at Unifi’s G. Allen Mebane Industrial Complex in Yadkinville.”

“Unifi has been an integral part of Yadkin County for nearly 45 years,” Todd said. “We are pleased that Unifi continues to grow and bring economic growth and job opportunities to our area.”

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