Turning Bottles into Gold

That plastic bottle you’re drinking out of could become your next pair of pants, thanks to some innovative recycling technology.

Repreve, a brand of recycled fibers from manufacturing company Unifi, is opening a new plant in North Carolina that will transform plastic bottles into 75 million pounds of “bottle flake” annually.

This bottle flake is used as raw material for fibers used in a range of products – everything from car seat covers to clothing.

Unifi will purchase baled PET plastic bottles from materials recovery facilities across the eastern United States, and bring them to the new Repreve Bottle Processing Center in Reidsville, N.C.

There, undesirable materials will be sorted and filtered using multiple processes to ensure that only the proper, high-quality bottles are kept for use.

Unifi will then remove labels, debris and caps from the remaining PET bottles. These bottles will be chopped into flake, washed, dried and bagged for use in the production of Repreve, or sold to other companies for a variety of consumer packaging applications.

These include thermoformed food-grade packaging like cups and takeout containers, as well as non-food applications such as strapping and film.

So, even the plastic that doesn’t make the cut for Repreve fibers can still be recycled into valuable products.

Unifi said that the new plant will add 87 new jobs in the Reidsville area. Seems like a win/win for both the local economy and the environment.

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