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Unifi increases PET recycling capacity

By: Jim Johnson

June 6, 2014

A PET recycling center in North Carolina is increasing capacity by 30 million pounds as demand continues to increase for apparel and automotive products made from its output.

Unifi Inc. is expanding its Repreve Recycling Center in Yadkinville, N.C., to increase capacity from 42 million to 72 million pounds each year.

That’s an increase of more than 70 percent.

The $5 million project will create 10 new jobs, including eight hourly workers and two shift managers, the company said.

Unifi markets its line of recycled fibers under the Repreve brand and said demand from “new customer adoptions” by companies including Ford Motor Co., North Face Inc., Nike Inc., Volcom Inc., and Patagonia Inc. are driving the move.

The Yadkinville site opened in May 2010. With the new $5 million investment, Unifi now has spent $15 million on the location.

“Expanding our Repreve manufacturing capabilities highlights our commitment to the Repreve brand and provides increased flexibility to better service our customers. As we bring the new machinery online, it’s clear that the increased versatility will help better position Repreve to support the growth and demand for recycled products,” said Chief Operating Officer Roger Berrier in a statement.

Unifi called automotive and apparel the “largest and fastest growing” segments for the company’s Repreve brand.

Expansion of the facility includes an additional recycling extruder as well as five new silos to support increased capacity, Berrier said in an email interview.

The recycling center, he said, was built in 2010 with enough space to accommodate this future expansion.

“Unifi sources the majority of its recycled material from suppliers that buy the bottles from municipalities and waste companies.  Sourcing will remain the same but at an increased volume,” Berrier said in the email interview.

The new hourly employees include four operators and four material handlers, the company said.