The Greensboro, N.C.-based yarn manufacturer noted that over the next 10 years, college graduates from the class of 2016 are estimated to use more than 3 billion plastic bottles, and with the U.S. recycling rate at only 31 percent, more than 2 billion of those plastic bottles will likely end up in landfills where they may never biodegrade.
To increase understanding of what happens to plastic bottles and to empower individuals to choose the recycling bin instead of the trash can, Unifi has taken to the road with a recycling education tour. The national #TurnItGreen mobile tour makes stops at universities, retail locations, major entertainment and sporting events, and elementary schools across the U.S.
Unifi transforms recycled plastic bottles into fiber called Repreve and works with Oak Hall Cap & Gown to turn it into fabric for graduation gowns worn by more than 400,000 graduates in schools across the country. Among those using Repreve-based gowns are Brown University, Michigan State, the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as more than 1,250 other schools.
“Graduation is a unifying moment in time and a perfect opportunity to reach Millennials, who can be a powerful voice for change in our society,” said Jay Hertwig, vice president of global brand sales, marketing and product development at Unifi, a multinational manufacturing company that produces and sells textured and other processed yarns and premier value-added yarns with enhanced performance characteristics. “There remains shockingly low participation in recycling programs and we believe this is largely because people don’t understand that high-quality products can be made from recycled plastic bottles.”
Repreve features familiar brands — such as Polartec, Volcom and Ford — to showcase the array of high-quality Repreve-based products that can be transformed from plastic bottles when consumers recycle. For example, it takes 27 recycled plastic bottles to produce an Oak Hall graduation gown, five to create a pair of Volcom Mod-Tech board shorts and eight for a pair of Haggar dress pants, saving billions of bottles because these products are made with Repreve.
“The #TurnItGreen tour brings to life the idea that recycling truly makes a difference for the environment and we want to help college graduates understand how such a simple action can make such a significant impact,” added Hertwig. “The well-known brands we work with realize that they, too, can make a difference by using recycled materials like Repreve in their products. Our work with Oak Hall gives us the opportunity to engage with college students who are about to go out into the world and continue their education beyond the classroom.”
Repreve is used in a variety of auto, outdoor, home and apparel products by brands such as Levi’s, The North Face, Haggar and Pottery Barn. Since the introduction of Repreve, Unifi has recycled and transformed more than 4 billion plastic bottles into fiber for Repreve-based products.