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Polyester is a naturally water-repellent material that can withstand the elements. We primarily use recycled polyester and are working toward eliminating all virgin polyester in our products by 2025.

A high-performance material that’s durable, lightweight and quick-drying, virgin and recycled polyester are found in many of our products. It also blends well with natural fabrics like cotton, making it a versatile material. But virgin polyester is derived from petroleum, which comes at a high environmental cost. Still, it’s one of the most in-demand materials across the globe. According to the Textile Exchange, in 2022 the global production of polyester reached 63 million metric tons for the clothing industry alone.

Recycled polyester, which has been available since the early 1990s, is now similarly priced to its virgin counterparts. Using recycled polyester reduces our reliance on petroleum as a source of raw materials, utilizes waste and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. Plus, by using recycled polyester, we can promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable.

We’re making progress

We’re decreasing our dependence on virgin petroleum as a raw material source.

The percentage of recycled polyester fabric, by weight, we used across all polyester-based products in Fall 2024.

Where We Are

We began making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles back in 1993—the first outdoor- clothing manufacturer to transform trash into fleece. Over 30 years later, we’ve incorporated recycled polyester into our soft shells, boardshorts, fleece and Capilene® baselayers. In a typical season, we use recycled polyester more than any other fiber. Virgin polyester, on the other hand, accounts for only 2% of fabric (by weight) used in our Fall 2024 line. We’re actively working to convert that remaining amount to recycled material.

When sourcing recycled materials, we ask our supply chain partners to be certified to approved third-party standards, including the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certifications. These standards ensure robust chain of custody practices are in place and reduce the risks of unauthorized mixing or swapping of materials. We are committed to achieving RCS or GRS certification at 100% of our eligible fabric mills by 2025.

We’re also investing in secondary waste streams beyond plastic bottles and addressing harder-to-recycle materials. For example, we’re working with a supply chain partner that turns cafeteria trays and other pigmented plastics—which are more difficult to recycle than clear types—into recycled polyester.

And we’ve recently introduced new products that contain recycled polyester that’s OceanCycle®-certified and sourced from plastic bottles collected from coastal areas that lack publicly funded waste management infrastructure. Having a third-party certification like OceanCycle gives us trust and transparency into the approved recycling networks that handle the collected bottles, and the confidence that the certified waste management networks can have a positive impact on the waste collectors in local communities.

For the Fall 2024 season, recycled polyester fabric was used in 97% of all polyester-based products (by weight). On average, using semi-mechanically recycled polyester fabric instead of virgin polyester avoids 50% of CO2e emissions, based on the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, version 3.7.

What’s Next

Our goal is to completely stop using virgin polyester by 2025. We’re also looking to the next generation of potentially recyclable materials. Long-term, we’re also considering more chemical-recycling technologies that might allow us to reuse recycled garments and get us closer to a “circular” manufacturing process.


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