Recycled polyester lessens our dependence on virgin petroleum-based materials.
An important fiber in our line, polyester 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. Polyester also blends well with natural fabrics like cotton. But virgin polyester is derived from petroleum, which comes at a high environmental cost.
Recycled polyester, which has been available since the early 1990s, is now similarly priced to its virgin counterparts. Using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials, utilizes waste and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. Plus, by using recycled polyester, we can promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable.
We’re making progress
Where We Are
We began making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles back in 1993—the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to transform trash into fleece. Almost 30 years later, we’ve incorporated recycled polyester into our hard shells, boardshorts, fleece and Capilene® baselayers, and overall have very little virgin polyester left in our line. We’re actively working to convert the remaining amount to recycled material.
For the Fall 2021 season, 89% of our polyester fabrics are made with recycled polyester. As a result of not using virgin polyester, we avoided more than 3.3 million pounds of CO₂.
We’re looking beyond plastic bottles from commodity recyclers to the next generation of potential recycled materials. One option could be recycled ocean plastics. Long-term, we’re also looking into chemical-recycling technologies that might allow us to reuse recycled garments and get us closer to a “circular” manufacturing process.