- Unifi has sold its 60% stake in Repreve Renewables LLC at a $1.66 million loss. This move reduced Unifi's debt by $4 million, as reported by the Winston-Salem Journal.
- Repreve Renewables' main focus has been the development of a grass called Freedom Giant Miscanthus which turns sunlight into bioenergy and is thought to produce more fuel than other biofuel options. Demand for this product still hasn't fully come to fruition, though the company did see some success using it for poultry bedding under the brand Thrivez.
- The company also announced that its earnings for the quarter ending Dec. 25 were $4.59 million, down from $6.46 the previous year, and the company still saw a 3.3% decline in adjusted net income excluding the Repreve Renewables sale. Some of this was attributed to lower demand for polyester and nylon yarns due to retail closures.
Repreve Renewables opened its North Carolina processing center less than a year ago, which has technology to help make the production of miscanthus grass commercially scalable and provide a greater yield. At the time the company said it had thousands of acres of production across the U.S. and would be employing eight full-time and 40 seasonal employees at the facility. Next steps for the company have not been announced yet.
Unifi has said it plans to focus more on its core businesses now and expressed optimism about its new $28 million Repreve Bottle Processing Center, also in North Carolina. The facility turns post-consumer plastics, fiber and fabric waste into feedstock that is turned into recycled yarn at a second Repreve facility. Once the new facility is fully operational it will be running 7 days a week with multiple shifts. Right now the majority of Unifi's sales have been to apparel and hosiery companies.
While Unifi didn't find lasting success in the biomass market, there is still demand to increase biomass operations industrywide. In September 2016, Bill Gates and Total invested $14 million in a biomass conversion technology that creates cellulosic sugars to be used in bioplastics. Additionally, a bill passed by California State Legislature last year requires the state's largest utilities to increase biomass power using dead trees across the state.