- Unifi, Inc. has opened a new $28 million Repreve Bottle Processing Center in Reidsville, NC which the company says is one of the most advanced in the country, as reported by Recycling Today.
- The newly expanded 150,000-square-foot facility will convert bales of PET bottles into clean flake that is shipped to a facility in nearby Yadkinville and turned into Repreve yarn for a variety of products.
- The company currently converts about 42 million pounds of recycled products per year. This expansion will give it the capacity to handle 76 million pounds, with the potential to eventually reach 100 million pounds.
This vertical integration has been a big priority for both the company and North Carolina. Unifi received more than $1.5 million in state grants to help fund its projects in Reidsville and Yadkinville. This latest expansion added 87 jobs to the existing Reidsville facility — which will operate seven days a week — and the company already employs hundreds of other people throughout the state.
With this new expansion, Unifi will help expand the local recycling market by ensuring a steady demand for PET bottles and generating material that has multiple uses. Any bottles that don't make the cut for use in Repreve products will be sold to manufacturers of consumer packaging, such as cups and take-out containers, and also used for strapping or film. This focus on repurposing materials is important for the company to adapt to the industrywide circular economy shift.
About half of Repreve's customers are in the apparel sector — including Adidas, Dockers, New Balance, The North Face, Polartec and Timberland. The material is also used in automotive fabrics by companies such as Ford. Recent entries into this field by other companies show that PET flake has a solid future in many other products besides bottles.