Repreve® Fibers Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles Used in Volcom Clothing
Repreve® recycled fiber helps Volcom make high-grade, more sustainable products for a new future
In our effort to address the impacts of our raw materials sourcing, we partner with Repreve® who we have been working with since 2012 when we first included Repreve’s fiber made from recycled plastic bottles in our t-shirts. Since then we’ve continued to increase the amount of Repreve fiber we use by including it in our best-selling men’s and women’s Volcom trunks and board shorts, pants and shorts, and continue to find opportunities to introduce the fiber to products throughout our line as part of our ongoing environmental sustainability push. For example, in certain styles and washes of jeans, we’ve just replaced the small amount of polyester used with Repreve.
We’re proud that since 2012, Volcom has helped recycle the equivalent of more than 10 million plastic bottles that have gone on to find a second life in our clothing. We’re daunted however, by fact that in the next ten minutes, 10 million plastic bottles will be bought and discarded around the world.
WHAT IS REPREVE?
Repreve® is a brand of recycled fiber that is made from recycled materials including used plastic bottles, which in turn is used to make sustainable clothing items and other products. More than 10 billion plastic bottles have been recycled by Repreve, and they are aiming for another 10 billion bottles by 2020. Watch the video below for a brief look at the process or take a deep dive through the entire step by step process on this episode of Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
- The abundance of plastics that are used in our daily lives – plastic bottles included – is becoming a global environmental and social issue that we can no longer ignore.
- Each minute, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world. That’s nearly 20,000 bottles being bought every second of every day this year. Most of which are not recycled.
- Our consumption of plastic bottles each year will likely top half a trillion by 2021. With lackluster recycling efforts, plastic bottles are jeopardizing oceans, coastlines and other environments.
PRODUCT FACTS AND BENEFITS OF REPREVE
- There are about 5 plastic bottles in each pair of Volcom Mod-Tech trunks made with Repreve and an average of 9 plastic bottle in our mens Frickin Modern Stretch Chino pants
- Nearly 30% of the fibers that Volcom uses are polyester, second only to cotton
- We’ve found that upwards of 65% of the environmental impacts associated with our products are from raw material extraction and processing, so when we eliminate the sourcing of virgin raw materials, we reduce our impacts. That means as a customer, when you buy products made with recycled fibers, you are creating more demand for products that have a lower impact.
- When compared to the manufacturing of conventional / virgin polyester, mechanically-recycled polyester, per 1Kg of Woven Polyester fabric, results in:
- Approximately 62% less energy used
- About 99% less water used
- Up to 35% less waste created
- Upwards of 20% less CO2 emitted
CHAMPIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
Volcom’s preferred recycled fiber supplier is Repreve (a division of Unifi) who in 2017 announced that they had recycled their 10 billionth bottle and are on track to recycle even more: 20 billion by 2020! To celebrate that landmark, Repreve announced their Champions of Sustainability award honoring brand partners who have helped them hit that landmark number along the way. Volcom is proud to be one of those brands having recycled at least 10 million bottles in our products to date.
Typically, when crude oil is refined, there’s a chemical extraction, then a polymerization, followed by a spinning of fiber into yarns. Lastly, the yarns are then woven into fabrics. The impacts of this process are energy use, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and air emissions.
Recycled polyester eliminates the crude oil (conserving a precious finite resource), refinery, and chemical extraction stages. Instead, plastic bottles are collected, washed, separated, chopped, ground, melted, and reformulated into a recycled chip, which are then melted and extruded into filament fiber to be used for the yarn and fabric process.
NEW FUTURE GOALS
Because polyester plays such an important role in Volcom’s material profile, and because so much our impacts come from raw material sourcing and processing, Volcom is committed to using more recycled content in our fabrics. In fact, by 2020, Volcom has committed to at least 20% of the synthetic fibers in the product range coming from recycled sources. This may not seem like much, but in 2014, only 2% of our fibers were from recycled sources. In 2017, we were at 17%. A continuous push towards a new future!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As a customer, it’s pretty simple. Help build a Smart Society!
- Reduce the amount of single-use plastic you’re consuming.
- Break away from relying on bottled water where and when you can. Need a nudge? Check out this awesome infographic with encouraging reasons to ditch the bottle, and watch Story of Stuff’s captivating eight-minute video on “The Story of Bottled Water.”
- When you do use a bottle, RECYCLE IT, which in turn gives that bottle gets a chance to be made into a Volcom product! Where to recycle? What can I recycle? Check here for recycling centers near you and to find out what items can be recycled.