Recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum-based materials.
We began making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles in 1993—the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to transform trash into fleece. It was a positive step toward a more sustainable system—one that uses fewer resources, discards less and better protects people’s health.
Polyester is an important fiber in our line, it allows us to build lightweight materials that dry quickly and can be used in a variety of applications, including trail-running tops and yoga tights. It also blends well with natural fabrics, such as cotton. Recycled polyester has been available since the early ‘90s, which has made the material more widely available and similarly priced to its virgin counterparts.
Using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials. It utilizes waste and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. It also helps to promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable.
We’re making progress
Where We Are
We recycle used plastic bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn-out garments (including our own) into polyester fibers to produce clothing. And compared to when we started doing this in 1993, we offer recycled polyester in a lot more garments, including Capilene® baselayers, hard shells, boardshorts and fleece.
We have very little virgin polyester left in our line, and we’re actively working to convert the remaining amount to recycled material.
This Spring 2020 season, 80% of our polyester fabrics are made with recycled polyester. By Using polyester fiber across our line this whole season led to a 7% reduction in CO2e compared to virgin polyester fiber. This amounts to over 5 million lbs of CO2e emissions avoided.
We’re looking at the next generation of potential recycled materials to use beyond plastic bottles from commodity recyclers. One option could be to use recycled ocean plastics. Long term, we’re also looking into chemical-recycling technologies that might allow us to use recycled garments.