We’re big fans of recycling - cutting old jeans into new styles, repurposing household objects, and recycling our polybags into dog poop bags (yeah, we’re committed). And clothing made out of recycled materials tops that list. One of our longtime supply chain partners, REPREVE®, is one of the main reasons we love recycling.
Established in 2008, REPREVE is an American company committed to turning upcycling “trashed” materials into fibers (Quick textile lesson: Fabrics are made out of fibers – some fabrics can be all of the same fibers, like 100% cotton, or a blend of fibers like 50% cotton/25% polyester/25% Tencel®. Different fibers have different performance benefits that cause fabrics to perform in different ways. Lesson over).
REPREVE makes fibers like nylon and polyester out of recycled materials, then we blend those fibers into many different fabrics across many different styles. And using recycled fibers is all part of our commitment to sustainability.
So how is REPREVE recycled polyester made?
It all starts with some uncomfortable truths about plastic bottles. About 80% of used plastic bottles end up in landfills every year – that’s 35 billion plastic bottles that get thrown away every year.
So REPREVE starts by accumulating lots of recycled PET plastic bottle at its recycling facility in North Carolina. (Another quick lesson: PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate -- a form of polyester that’s derived from oil that’s molded into all sorts of consumer products). The used bottles are sorted, washed and shredded into flakes that look like fish food. The clean flakes are blended, melted, and turned into chips that are loaded in big silos. Just like a grain silo, each REPREVE silo holds the equivalent of 27 million plastic bottles.The chips enter the extrusion and texturing process, which transforms the chips into fibers with distinct performance benefits like wicking, thermal reg, odor control, and conditioning.
Okay, so how many bottles has REPREVE recycled?
Since 2008, they’ve recycled more than 20 billion (yes BILLION with a “B”) plastic bottles! Just for context: What does a billion bottles look like? If you place 8-inch plastic bottles end to end, they would circle the Earth five times. So multiply that by 20. WHOA.
When you go to the REPREVE website there’s an updated ticker counting the number of bottles that have been recycled. It’s a constant reminder that recycling your plastic bottles may seem like a small step, but that small act has become a global force. Just by recycling we can reduce plastic pollution and help to preserve natural resources by requiring less petroleum, energy and water to produce.
Speaking of other resources, what else makes REPREVE sustainable?
This process isn’t just about finding new life for recycled materials – it’s also about reducing the amount of resources used to produce new fibers. Compared to making new fibers (or virgin fibers), making REPREVE fibers offsets using new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and conserving water and energy throughout the production process (so if you're wondering, "is recycled polyester safe?", yep, it is). To give you an idea of the amount of resources using 20 billon recycled plastic bottles saves...
- Enough energy to power 189,249 homes for 1 year
- Enough drinking water to sustain 2.3 million people daily for 1 year
- 517 million kilograms of C02 emissions
That makes a big difference for our future.
This sounds great, but is REPREVE certified recycled?
You betcha! It’s always good to confirm that recycled materials come from reputable sources that don’t rely on child or forced labor to collect recycled materials. REPREVE is certified by the U-Trust Verification system to certify recycled content claims.
So what’s the difference between recycled fabrics made with REPREVE vs. virgin fabrics?
Well, nothing. Recycled fibers still have the same stretch, recovery, and performance as virgin fabrics – just with a sustainability factor. We guarantee that you, our customer, won’t be able to tell the difference in the hand feel and the care instructions. It’s exactly the same. The recycled nature doesn’t inhibit the fabric or performance in any way.
Great – where can I buy recycled clothing made with REPREVE?
Lots of places! Many major retailers and companies have incorporated recycled REPREVE fibers into their product lines – Toad&Co included! Shop our men’s styles and women’s styles made with recycled fibers – we swear it feels twice as nice.