Teijin, an $8.5 billion Japanese polyester manufacturer, and Patagonia took a big step towards making the outdoor industry more sustainable with a new concept in recycling. The two companies announced the first global launch of a cradle-to-cradle polyester recycling initiative. Patagonia produces 1.3 million capilene pieces per year and is asking consumers to send in used capilene to be recycled into new garments.
What makes this idea more compelling is the economic story. According to Patagonias president & CEO, Michael Crooke, the process is actually cheaper than using virgin raw materials. However, once the shipping expenses are added in, the costs are roughly equal.
The process, dubbed Ecocircle is available to all vendors in the industry willing to make the commitment. In fact, Crooke made a point of not asking for an exclusive on the new process and challenged the industry to get involved. Teijin said that there is more than enough capacity.
The real challenge for these two companies, and for the industry, will be getting the consumer involved.