O.R. webinar

Unifi execs extol virtues of REPREVE® brand

Posted February 25, 2021


Jay Hertwig, senior vice president of Commercialization at Unifi Manufacturing, Inc., presented “The REPREVE® Difference” during an Outdoor Retailer webinar last week.


Unifi’s REPREVE brand is a performance fiber made from 100 percent recycled materials, including post-consumer plastic bottles and pre-consumer waste. They are also certified and traceable.


Since the brand’s launch, the Greensboro, N.C., company has transformed more than 20 billion bottles into REPREVE fibers, Hertwig said. Starting with two brands – Patagonia and Polartec – in 2007, Unifi now has more than 700 brand and retail partners using the product globally, he added.


“By already having the polymer in the form of a post-consumer plastic bottle or other polyester waste materials, it offsets the need for natural resources,” Hertwig said. “So it has major impact in terms of CO2 emissions, water and energy.”


What does 20 billion recycled bottles equate to from an environmental standpoint? Recycling that many bottles, he noted, equates to eliminating CO2 emissions from the use of about 1.2 billion barrels of oil, eliminating enough water that would provide 2.3 million people drinking water for one year and eliminating enough energy to power more than 189,000 homes for one year.


He extoled several other virtues of the REPREVE® brand, including its global supply chain, which ensures manufacturing consistency to every major textile-producing region in the world; the fact that it is traceable and third-party certified; and the fact that it is customizable, with the ability to add different value-added performance or eco-friendly features. He also explained the versatility, end uses and manufacturing processes involved in REPREVE.


Today, more than 700 brands have adopted the brand, part of its success being its commitment to consumer- and customer-facing marketing that includes event marketing, point of sale and fixtures, collateral and digital means.


“We would like to thank all of the brands that we’re working with today for your support and your belief in the REPREVE brand,” Hertwig said.


Hertwig also discussed Unifi’s Waterwise™ process, or a greener way to color fiber through a waterless dyeing system; and it’s REPREVE Our Ocean, a premium collection of fiber and resin sourced from bottles at high risk of entering the ocean.


“We’ve been out there promoting sustainability for a long time,” Hertwig said. “Pre-pandemic, we were already seeing a lot of movement by companies that were setting sustainability goals. Now, we’re seeing a more intense focus on sustainability and a bigger adoption of recycled polyester and nylon as we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s been enlightening to us to see a surge in sustainable activity.”


Hertwig was joined on the webinar by Unifi’s Chad Bolick, vice president of Brand Sales, who moderated the discussion and offered further insights into the brand. He also teased a forthcoming REPREVE Fabric Takeback Process.


“You’ll continue to see us upfront in promoting recycling awareness with our REPREVE brand, partnering with different brands in getting the message out there and creating a better product for the good of tomorrow,” Hertwig said. “We’re excited about the opportunity. We all have to recycle more and get that recycling rate higher here in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world.”

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