The fashion and textile industry is slowly changing for good. Consumers are demanding more ethical and ecological alternatives, and brands are answering this urgent call.
The first place to begin this sustainable journey is looking for eco-friendly alternatives to conventional (and polluting) materials and fabrics. Among today’s innovative solutions we can find REPREVE fabric.
What is REPREVE?
Is not news that billions of plastic bottles go into landfills every year and that they take at least 1000 years to decompose. In fact, only in the USA, 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away annually. Shocking figures, we know.
But what is more shocking than that, is that these same bottles can be turned into actual, wearable fabric. And that’s what REPREVE is.
REPREVE is a state-of-the-art, performance fiber made from all types of recycled materials, including plastic bottles. So far, the company has managed to recycle more than 31 billion plastic bottles and the counter keeps going up every second!
REPREVE recycled fiber provides high quality and trusted sustainability, and that is why so many brands have decided to include this source in their production processes.
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How is REPREVE fabric made?
Before diving into the “how”, let’s about the “who”. REPREVE fabric is made by Unifi, a leading global textile producer that offers technology-driven solutions to labels from all around the world.
The first step in the making of REPREVE fiber is sourcing and purchasing recycled plastic bottles and post-industrial waste (including the company’s own waste) from Materials Recycling Facilities in different countries, which are recovered from landfills and ocean trash.
Afterward, the bottles are loaded onto a conveyor belt, where they are sorted and cleaned thoroughly. During this process, bottle labels are also removed by using steam.
Once the bottles are fully washed, they are chopped into flakes, which are then melted and extruded into chips. These chips are extruded a second time, melted into a liquid polymer, and finally extruded through tiny openings in a spinneret. This process creates continuous filaments that form REPREVE fiber. But that’s not all.
The fiber is now wound into spools and transformed into yarns through spinning. The last step is an air-jet texturing process, which changes the physical form of the fiber.
REPREVE is now ready to be shipped to customers and transformed into quality, durable apparel, home goods, footwear, and even used by the automotive industry. This is how everyday products are becoming more sustainable thanks to these groundbreaking solutions.
Is REPREVE eco-friendly?
Absolutely, it is. REPREVE is an eco-smart solution for brands and businesses who want to replace the use of conventional fabrics for sustainable alternatives.
But it is not only sustainable for recycling and giving a second life to single-use plastics. It is also eco-friendly because it is not a “virgin fiber”. This means that the making of REPREVE costs less to the planet:
- It offsets using new petroleum;
- It releases fewer greenhouse gases to the air, saving 646 million kgs. of CO₂ emissions;
- And it saves both water and energy in the process.
In fact, so far the company has saved enough water to supply 2.2 million people with drinking water for a year.
Moreover, REPREVE performance fiber is the only fiber that has been verified with U TRUST®, which is a program created by Unifi itself that certifies recycled content claims through traceable Fiber Print™ technology.
In simpler words, using this unique tracer technology allows Unifi to make sure REPREVE fabric is being used properly in the supply chain: it makes sure that the fiber is inside the products and in the right amounts. In this way, Unifi protects both brands and REPREVE technology for what they stand for.
Transparency is a key element when it comes to sustainability, and that is why verifications and certifications like such are so crucial for customers.
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What are REPREVE fabric properties?
Thanks to Unifi’s high-quality standards, REPREVE fiber is a strong, durable, and reliable material. The fabric provides moisture-wicking and thermal regulation properties, such as warming and cooling.
It is also water repellent and wrinkle resistant. On top of that, REPREVE fabric mimics the look and feel of natural fibers, while being flexible and offering optimal performance thanks to the combined filaments.
After advanced air-jet texturing and innovative texturing methods, REPREVE yarns are more durable, flexible, and dyeable, providing a longer lifespan and superior performance.
Another great aspect about REPREVE yarns is that it comes in many forms. REPREVE can be made into recycled polyester, nylon yarns, staple fiber, fiberfill, and resin too. And all the alternatives are 100% green. The yarns are so soft and dependable that they are even fit for warp knitting and weaving.
In addition, Unifi also offers performance technologies and value-added services, which allows them to use fewer natural resources, like water and energy.
The company’s dyeing process is an avant-garde solution, thanks to Unifi’s leading color-matching applications and ethical environmental practices. The technologically-advanced dyeing process offers vibrant, embedded color without using water.
Which brands are using REPREVE?
REPREVE recycled and performance fabric turned out to be such an innovative, high-quality material that brands from all kinds of industries have joined the sustainable movement. It is also a certified and traceable fiber, which makes it even more coveted for labels.
REPREVE technology is now used by the world’s leading brands, from apparel and footwear to home goods and automakers, such as Ford, which uses it to make car interiors.
Other companies that are using REPREVE are outerwear brand Patagonia; surfwear labels Quiksilver and Roxy; as well as fashion apparel brands Guess, Aeropostale, Volcom, and Planks Clothing, among others.