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What To Do with Billions of Plastic Bottles? Turn It Into Recycled Fabric!


By Dean Schwartz (SWAG Master): One of the more common questions we ask in life is “what if?”

Obviously, you can question any aspect of your life with such a simple phrase (and for that reason it may be healthier to steer away from that part of your brain) but when it comes to the environment, it’s a question we can no longer avoid. What if the sea levels rise another inch? What if we are irreparably damaging our oceans with plastic water bottles?

Or, better yet, what if we could find a new use for the 35 billion plastic bottles that get thrown away each year in America alone?! Thankfully, the global leader in recycled fabric, UNIFI, is now trying to answer that question. And best of all? The products they’re creating from the plastic don’t sacrifice on quality at all.

UNIFI has emerged as the most trusted sustainable-global-solutions provider, and their trademarked REPREVE (recycled performance fiber) is leading the way in ridding our oceans of plastic (over 16 billion plastic bottles recycled thus far!) They’re already having an impact on the promotional product industry, too, as savvy brands are partnering with UNIFI and using REPREVE to produce innovative products that boost their appeal to eco-conscious consumers without losing the qualities that their customers have come to expect. We’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll say it again: leveraging this eco-friendly movement is a smart way to improve your business’ public perception and gain new customers that are growing increasingly eco-conscious by the day – not to mention it’s great for the environment. Talk about a win-win! So, how exactly does it work?

What To Do with Billions of Plastic Bottles? Turn It Into Recycled Fabric!

recycled fabric 1

The ultimate goal of REPREVE is to rid our ocean of plastic. In order to do so, the root cause must be dealt with; which is why they focus on high risk plastic such as “bottles that are within 50 kilometers of coastlines in countries or areas that lack formal waste or recycling systems” to prevent it from spreading in the first place. They bring the collected plastic to one of the most advanced recycling facilities in the entire United States where the bottles are then sorted, washed, and chopped into flakes. The clean flakes are blended, melted, turned into REPREVE recycled chips, and loaded into one of their many silos on the grounds. To give you an idea of the scale that we’re talking about here – a single silo holds the equivalent of 27 million plastic bottles!

From there, the chips are moved into a state-of-the-art extrusion and texturing process where they are transformed into fibers. We won’t bore you with the details, but here’s the main takeaway: unlike other eco-friendly options, REPREVE’s unique process allows for sustainable fibers that won’t sacrifice quality. Their fibers have inherent performance properties that we’ve come to expect out of apparel but are sorely lacking in other recycled fibers- such as wicking, thermal regulation, odor control, and cushioning.

So, where does all this great stuff go? According to UNIFI, REPREVE supplies and drives innovation for the #1 jeans brand as well as the #1 athletic shoemaker, but they also work with global automakers that are aggressively pursuing sustainability, as well as all leaders in eco-friendly apparel and home decor. Next up: your business!

recycled fabric 2

Are you ready to make a difference? If we all pitch in, together we can remove billions of plastic bottles from polluting our environment and, in turn, improve your business’ connection with younger, more eco-friendly consumers. 

Want to know more about how we’re going green, or how you can make your SWAG more environmentally friendly? Give us a call at 888.752.0432 or email info@soboconcepts.com to find out more. And remember to always #SWAGwithStyle!

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