Yadkinville, NC -- What's old is new again. Unifi takes recycled plastic bottles and transforms them into yarn. That yarn is called Repreve which is made in Yadkinville.
Unifi has been making yarn in the Piedmont since 1971 but the company had to reinvent itself, after the recent struggles of the textile industry.
"Recycling is giving us a rebirth to grow again," explained Roger Berrier, Unifi's president and chief operating officer. "The reaction is always the same. Wow! I didn't know you could make cool products out of plastic bottles!"
Here's the process to make Repreve fiber: Unifi takes ground recycled plastic bottles and melts it. It's then filtered, cleaned, then transformed into a polyester-type material and made into yarn. The yarn is then sold to manufacturers.
"That yarn is turned into fabric and garments and other form of end uses all over the nation," said Berrier.
Repreve yarn can be found in a variety of products including car seats, bags, socks, t-shirts, and pants. Major companies, including Patagonia, Nike and the North Face are using Repreve in their products.
"We're working with REI, we're working with Haggar, and Ford Motor Company. The list keeps growing every year," said Berrier.
During a recent interview with WFMY News 2, Berrier was wearing several pieces of clothing made with Repreve yarn. His shirt was made from 13 recycled bottles, his pants contained 7 bottles and his shoes were made from six bottles.
"If you look at what I'm wearing, I'm wearing 26 bottles from the shirt to the pants to the shoes," exclaimed Berrier.
Just as plastic bottles get a new use, Unifi has found a new purpose with the help of innovative products, like Repreve. The company has saved about 500 million plastic bottles from landfills.
"We were a great big company but we went through a textile demise. We had to reinvent ourselves. Now, we're doing good as a company. We're growing adding jobs. We're also reborn again."