The Greening of Fleece

Polartec LLC, the Lawrence, Mass.–based maker of the performance fleece, recently struck a deal with Greensboro, N.C.–based Unifi Inc. to launch a new line of performance fabrics made with Unifi’s Repreve 100 fiber, which is made from post-consumer waste.

In the last four years, Polartec has expanded its recycled-content business from next to nothing (less than 1 percent) to more than 30 percent of total production. With the Unifi deal, Polartec’s business is set to get even greener.

Unifi’s Repreve product line includes recycled filament polyester, made from recycled PET bottles. The fiber is available in a 100 percent post-consumer content form (Repreve 100) and in a “hybrid blend” of pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. The company also has a Repreve nylon 6.6 fiber made from recycled filament nylon 6.6, as well as a Repreve fiber made from recycled polyester staple fibers and products made from recycled performance fibers. According to Unifi, every pound of Repreve 100 yarn contains about 27 water bottles.

Set to bow for Spring 2011, Polartec with Repreve 100 will help Polartec further its environmental initiatives, according to Polartec President Andy Vecchione. “Unifi has been an excellent partner in our quest to deliver high-performance, recycled-content fabrics while reducing our overall footprint throughout the supply chain,” he said. “The goal has always been to use as much post-consumer content as possible.”

The rollout will include a joint marketing program between Polartec and Unifi plus hangtags that will highlight the benefits of Polartec with Repreve 100. According to the companies, the new fabrics will have the look, feel and performance of similar fabrics made from polyester. According to Unifi, more than 21 billion plastic bottles enter landfills every year. In addition, Unifi says, on average, two pounds of Repreve fibers saved the equivalent of one gallon of gas. The Unifi and Polartec partnership seeks to educate consumers about recycling and other eco-friendly practices.

For customers looking to verify recycled fiber content, Unifi offers the U Trust program. The program includes Fingerprint technology, which allows customers to analyze fabrics for the “Fingerprint signature” to verify the level of Repreve content in the fabric.—Alison A. Nieder