Patagonia's Clothing Recycling Program
Four years ago, outdoor clothing company Patagonia had set out to make all of its garments recyclable by the end of 2010, through what it called the Common Threads Program.
As the deadline looms, Patagonia looks back and sees what has been working and what has not.
Patagonia began with its capeliene underwear, which was easiest to break down, with no buttons or zippers, just backpacker jock sweat. The list of recyclable garments grew, encompassing mechanical and chemical recycling, and 65 percent of the catalog is meant to be recyclable by the end of the year.
However, the company will not reach 100% by next year, for reasons discussed in greater detail below.
The first product collected and recycled through Common Threads was Patagonia's polyester-spandex Capilene underwear, chosen because underwear is simple, has no buttons or zippers and isn't typically handed down.
The Common Threads program grew in spring 2007 when other Capilene apparel was included, along with 100 percent cotton T-shirts, Patagonia fleece and Polartec fleece jackets from any clothing brand. A year later Patagonia started labeling clothes that were accepted through Common Threads with instructions on what to do with them at the end of their lives. The collection program also expanded to include some board shorts, polyester jackets and nylon items, and later that year Patagonia unveiled the first recyclable nylon waterproof and breathable shell. Around that time Patagonia also started working with another company, Toray, which developed a recycling program for items made of nylon 6.
So, in this case, Patagonia flew too close to the sun, but the metaphor is flawed: the result isn't a true failure, but the discovery that the road to the goal is longer and twistier than expected. What's important is that clothing recycling is viable.
(found via HuffPo)
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