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REPREVE® recycled polyester

Lombok KMD 4852

How recycled fabric can meet the world’s growing demand for polyester

Global demand for polyester outstripped cotton to become the number one fibre in the early 2000s and continues to rise. There is now twice as much demand for polyester compared with cotton.

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Global fibre demand for cotton and polyester 1980 - 2030

With limited fossil fuels available to feed this demand, and a mounting mountain of post–consumer plastic waste, recycling is the obvious answer.

Our number one fibre

Polyester is Kathmandu’s number one fibre in terms of use and so we are working to shift our supply from virgin polyester to recycled solutions.

Repreve is a recycled polyester that not only meets demand – it also fixes a problem. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic (marked with a #1 on plastic bottles) is the same material as polyester. Unifi, the makers of Repreve, have developed a process to turn bottle flakes into fibres, which can be made into everything from backpacks (approximately 17 bottles) to fleece jackets (15 bottles) to T–shirts (6 bottles).

1.2 million bottles recycled in 2016

Last year, we set a goal to recycle one million bottles. We beat our target by 20%. That means 42,000 litres of oil didn’t go into our garments. The amount of greenhouse gases saved was about the same as what you’d release if you drove a family sedan around the earth five times.

Next year, our goal is more than double – we’re aiming to re–use 2.5 million plastic bottles in our 2017 financial year.

How you can help

We can all help to grow the raw resource by recycling. Right now, only 32% of plastic bottles are recycled in the US (48% in Western Europe and 83% in China).

The repreve process 1920x1080
Using Repreve we recycled 1.2m plastic bottles in 2016

1. These are conservative estimates for 500ml water bottles. Carbonated drink bottles are heavier. 2. Energy and GHG savings data provided by Unifi, Inc. from Unifi product–specific LCIs and other published LCI data; equivalencies are based on US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. 3. From USA – EPA data based on an average passenger vehicle. 4. The total length of New Zealand roads is 94,000km. 5. The mean equatorial diameter of earth is 12,756km. 6. A conversion on the EPA site for CO2 sequester by pine trees was unavailable. Instead, it’s based on ‘US forest’.