Thursday, March 24, 2016


In February the Sustainability Graduate Programs at Wake Forest University had the opportunity to visit Unifi’s facility in Yadkinville, NC to learn more about their Repreve product. Repreve is a yarn made from recycled plastic bottles, turning an environmentally harmful waste stream into a new consumer product.

Our Process

Repreve is used by clothing companies like Quiksilver and Patagonia and even used in seats in some Ford models. So far Unifi has reclaimed and used 630 million plastic bottles in Repreve. That’s 4 billion fewer bottles sitting in a landfill since 2007 — not to mention the resources saved by creating new products with recycled materials.

During our visit we had the opportunity to speak with Unifi’s Channel Marketing Manager to learn about the sales and marketing process for this unique product, and we had a Q&A session with the Corporate Process Improvement Manager, the Vice President of Supply Chain, and an RRC engineer.

We also got to tour the facility and see how recovered plastic bottles could go from waste to input to finished product. For a lot of us, this was our first time in a manufacturing plant so it was a great opportunity to learn about manufacturing in the context of sustainability. We were able to see firsthand the complexities of creating products from recycled goods. We also got the chance to make excellent contacts at a successful, relevant, global company.

<blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink="" data-instgrm-version="8" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"></div></div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">Dreaming of spending the weekend relaxing in @YukonOutfitters&#39; SomniSmart Recycled #Hammock.😴 Details via link in bio.</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A post shared by <a href="" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;" target="_blank"> REPREVE</a> (@repreve) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2018-01-25T15:32:02+00:00">Jan 25, 2018 at 7:32am PST</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src="//"></script>

Repreve, Unifi, Inc.

Justin Catanoso, a regular contributor to Mongabay, is a professor of journalism at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Find him on Medium and

MAS '16

Sustainability Program Manager

Sustainability Program Manager managing the Sustainable Buildings Initiative, working with commercial real estate owners & tenants in Greater Boston to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience. Learn more at

Sustainability professional with 8 years of experience in sustainability, consulting, and communications and a master’s degree in sustainability.