Elon, NC -- When candidates for Elon University's Master of Education degree take part in Commencement exercises on Saturday, their regalia will contain fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, as part of the University's sustainability commitment.
The University is introducing a new line of Commencement apparel beginning with the August 20th ceremony. All future ceremonies for both undergraduate and graduate students will use the earth-friendly robes, which will remain the same maroon color for those earning their Bachelor's degrees.
"We believe this change has a good educational message for our students and their families," said Gerald Whittington, Elon's Senior Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology. "The more we implement this sort of sustainable practice, the lower the ultimate cost will be, and the greater the benefit for our planet."
Manufactured by Virginia-based Oak Hall Cap & Gown, it takes about 23 plastic bottles to produce each gown. The company notes on its website that with 60 million plastic bottles going into landfills every day, the gowns offer universities "a chance to turn trash into keepsakes."
To make the robes, recycled plastic bottles are processed to remove impurities such as labels and caps. Bottles are then "chopped" into fragments, which are melted and solidified into pellets. Those pellets are melted again and extruded into filament yarn. The yarn is woven, dried and finished.