Unifi recycles 10 billion bottles

By Kitsey Burns Harrison - kburns@yadkinripple.com

Ever wondered how many plastic bottles it would take to circle the earth more than 50 times? The answer is 10 billion and that’s also the number of bottles that have now been recycled into REPREVE fiber at Unifi. The company which has a plant in Yadkinville made this announcement on Nov. 14 in honor of America Recycles Day.

According to a press release from Unifi, the company has set a goal of recycling 20 billion bottles by 2020 and 3o billion by 2022.

“Reaching 10 billion bottles is an impressive milestone, and by committing to recycle an additional 20 billion by 2022, we will continue to expand our portfolio of REPREVE-based performance products,” said Kevin Hall, chief executive officer of Unifi. “With nearly 70 percent of plastic bottles in the United States going to landfills, America Recycles Day is a perfect time to remind people to recycle more and buy sustainable products. REPREVE provides a solution for plastic bottles as long as they make it to a recycling bin.”

Local staff members at the Unifi plant in Yadkinville said they, too, are thrilled with the accomplishment and looking forward to continuing to create sustainable products.

“To me, this means that nothing is impossible. REPREVE started as an idea and now it is much more than just a product, it is a movement to do something better for our world. I have challenged myself, as well as my family, to recycle more than we throw away,” said Smith Williams, HR operations manager for Unifi Manufacturing, Inc.

Doing something good for future generations is a common theme employees of the company noted.

Cathy Pardue, plant manager of T-5 for Unifi, said, “It means a better environment for my grandchildren.”

Unifi also has announced the launch of the REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards, which will acknowledge companies who are committed to manufacturing sustainable products with REPREVE performance fibers.

“Unifi could not have reached the 10 billion bottle milestone without the commitment from our customers to provide earth-friendly products, and the REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards give us the opportunity to thank our partners who helped make it possible. A vast difference can be made if more companies recognize the impact they have on our planet and take steps to reduce it. The REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards are meant to honor and inspire companies to source responsibly and take sustainability strategies to the next level,” Hall said.

The 2017 winners of the REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards will be announced at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Denver, Jan. 25-28.

North Face jackets, Ford Focus car seats, and Target’s Cat & Jack children’s clothing line are a few of the companies using REPREVE fiber in their products.

In April of this year, Target announced that its Cat & Jack clothing line would be using Repreve recycled polyester in the brand’s swimwear, graphic tees, newborn bodysuits, basic tees and tanks, and more.

Dana Dalton of Boonville, a mom of three, said she was thrilled to learn that the clothing line was incorporating recycled fiber made in Yadkin County.

“I am happy to know that a purchase from a big box store can be traced back to our community,” Dalton said. “We are often made to feel bad when we buy from these kinds of establishments instead of ‘shopping local’ so to speak. And I’ll say these clothes are very durable and well made and that is important because kids are hard on their clothes.”

“There is a sense of pride, ownership and satisfaction knowing that I played a part in taking what was once waste and making it into the product I see hanging in the store,” said Corey Tate, engineering manager for Unifi.

Williams added, “Not only do I have great pride in what products I see hanging in the store, but my family also gets excited. We have seen everything from bathing suits to back packs, slacks and jerseys. We all get excited and my kids want me to buy everything they see with a REPREVE hang tag. Knowing that I have been a small part of that gives me great pride. I see how important each person is to our process and what they contribute. We are doing our part, not only for the counties we live in, but in making the world a better place for future generations. I hope one day my children can tell their grandchildren about the recycling movement that started with REPREVE.”

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterk.

By Kitsey Burns Harrison