I put together some answers to general questions regarding Repreve® fibers. You can also visit their webpage here.
What is Repreve®?:
Repreve is a brand name. Just like Lycra is a brand name for elastane, Repreve is a brand name for recycled polyethylene terephthalate or rPET. Repreve is a recycled fiber that contains recycled materials—including post-industrial waste and used plastic bottles. (The PET bottles labeled with “1”). These recycled fibers are then turned into apparel fabrics, hosiery, upholstery, home goods, and even seat belts.
What can be made from Repreve® fibers?
Repreve fibers can be made into resin, nylon and polyester.
Repreve resin is made from pre-consumer fiber waste and post-consumer plastics, like plastic bottles. The resin is then used to make plastic bottles, shampoo bottles, food containers, strapping materials, and baby wipes.
Repreve nylon is made from pre-consumer waste. Currently it can not be made from recycled plastic bottles. The nylon can either be 100% recycled or a hybrid blend with virgin materials. It can be used for everything from swimwear to lingerie to outdoor gear and hosiery.
Repreve polyester, like resin, is made from pre-consumer fiber waste and post-consumer plastics, like plastic bottles. Like nylon, it can be 100% recycled or blended with virgin materials. Polyester can be used in everything from garments, outwear, socks, to car seat belts and home goods.
Who makes Repreve®?:
Repreve fibers are made by Unifi Manufacturing, Inc. They have been in the textile industry since 1971, and launched Repreve in 2007. Unifi's headquarters and US operations are in North Carolina.
What are the benefits of Repreve®?:
To date, the making of Repreve polyester has led to over 16 billion plastic bottles being recycled. Not only are you reducing plastic waste, but according to Unifi compared to virgin polyester, Repreve fibers use 45% less energy, emit over 30% less greenhouse gases, and use 20% less water.
Unlike other recycled polyesters, Repreve fibers are embedded with Unifi's proprietary FiberPrint® technology. This allows Unifi to offer a U Trust® Verification program, which gives customers a higher level of transparency. At any point in the supply chain Unifi can analyze the fabric content and composition to determine if Repreve is present and in the right amounts.
Where are Repreve® fibers made?:
In the US, Unifi is a vertically integrated company. Repreve is made in three Unifi manufacturing facilities located in North Carolina. If needed, they also have the ability to make Repreve fibers in Turkey and Pakistan.
Typically, fabrics manufactured in Asia use Repreve fibers made from Unifi's subsidiary, Unifi Textiles (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.
After the fibers are made, Unifi has distribution centers in various countries. This allows Repreve to be accessible to fabric mills all around the world.
Regardless of which Unifi facility manufacturers the fiber, the fiber will always be traceable and have third party eco-friendly certifications (like Oeko-Tex 100, Global Recycled Standard and Certified Recycled Content).
How is Repreve® made in the US?: **This is only for polyester**
In the US, plastic bottles are sent to Unifi's Reidsville Bottle Processing Center in North Carolina. They are sorted, de-labeled, washed, dried and ground into flakes.
The flakes are then packaged and sent to the Repreve Recycling Center in Yadkinville, NC. There the flakes are melted and reformulated into Repreve chips. The chips are melted into a liquid polymer and extruded through tiny openings in a spinneret, creating continuous filaments that form Repreve fiber.
Finally, the fiber is sold to fabric mills to become fabric or other products.