Repreve Fibers Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles Used in Volcom Clothing

Repreve Fibers Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles Used in Volcom Clothing

Repreve recycled fiber helps Volcom make higher-grade, more sustainable products for a New Future

Since 2012, Volcom has been addressing the impacts of our raw materials with our partner Repreve by first including Repreve fibers in our t-shirts, and has since included it in woven tops, fleece, pants, boardshorts, and more as a part of our ongoing environmental sustainability push. We’re proud to announce that since 2012, Volcom has helped recycle more than 10 Million plastic bottles that have gone on to find a second life in our products. Throughout our business, New Future program, and sustainability efforts, we are actively addressing our environmental and social impacts with a commitment to responsible manufacturing practices, better fiber sourcing, robust impact evaluation, and meaningful give backs.

In this article:

  • What is Repreve?
  • Why you should care about Repreve
  • Product facts and benefits of Repreve 
  • Champions of Sustainability Award
  • Technical talk
  • New future goals
  • What can you do?
Repreve recycled fiber

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.
  • You will find Repreve in the following Volcom products: Frickin Chinos, select Mod Tech Boardshorts, Frickin Chino Shorts, Stone Storm Jacket, Everett Solid Wovens, and core fabric fleece tees.

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. That’s more than a million plastic bottles per minute, 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.
  • The US plastic bottle recycling rate is on the decline, while manufacturing and consumption are on the rise. At the end of 2017, it was reported that the US plastic bottle recycling rate was down (for the second year in a row) to just 29.7%, leaving more than 70% of the bottles that are made unrecycled. Even worse, plastics in general see an estimated recycling rate of only 9%, leaving 91% destined for landfills or environmental litter.
  • We have found that upwards of 65% of the environmental impacts associated with our products are from raw material sourcing 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.
  • 400 years: that’s the number of years it takes for plastic to degrade. That means most of it still exists in some form or another in our landfills, gutters, oceans or other areas, and will for many more years unless we, as humanity, do something about it.
  • By mid-century, the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish, ton for ton. 
  • Plastic manufacturing has doubled every 15 years and outpaces, in volume, every other man-made material.
  • Half of all the plastic we make ends up as unused trash within a year of it being made.
  • Scientists have estimated that each year, upwards of eight million metric tons of littered plastic end up in our oceans. You can imagine that as about five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline around the entire globe.
  • A recent study by Ghent University in Belgium found that people who regularly eat seafood accidentally consume up to 11,000 small pieces of plastic each year, and a study by Plymouth University found that one-third of all fish caught in the UK contained tiny pieces of plastic.
  • Last year, the average American used an estimated 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled about 38.

Product facts and benefits of Repreve

  • There are about five plastic bottles in each boardshort made with Repreve 
  • Nearly 30% of the fibers that Volcom uses are polyester, second only to cotton
  • Repreve fabric is made by transforming recycled bottles into an amazing fiber for reliable, durable quality clothing.

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
Our partnership has allowed us to use less petroleum and emit fewer greenhouse gases than those products made with conventional polyester fibers.

Champions of Sustainability Award

Volcom’s preferred recycled fiber supplier is Repreve (a division of Unifi) who just recently 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.

Technical Talk

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, GHGs, and air emissions.

Recycled polyester eliminates the crude oil (conserving a precious 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!

  1. Reduce the amount of single-use plastic you’re consuming.
  2. 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."
  3. When you do use a bottle, RECYCLE IT, which in turn gives that bottle gets a chance to be made into a Volcom boardshort! Where to recycle? What can I recycle? Check here for recycling centers near you and to find out what items can be recycled.