GREENSBORO, N.C., June 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall / -- Unifi, Inc. (NYSE: UFI) announced that it is expanding its commitment to sustainable practices and initiatives with new investments toward the backwards integration into the supply chain for recycled products and in a new joint venture focused on renewable energy. As environmental stewardship and sustainability become more important to companies around the world, these new investments will solidify Unifi as a leader in green initiatives.
For more than a decade, Unifi has continued to raise its commitment to sustainable practices, recycling everything from paper tubes, pallets and corrugated boxes to donating biosolids to area farmers. In the mid 2000's, Unifi developed REPREVE® recycled polyester to provide customers and consumers with an eco-friendly, 100% recycled product that performs like virgin fibers and conserves natural resources. Over the years, REPREVE has evolved from one product into a family of recycled fibers.
To improve the availability of recycled raw materials and significantly increase the Company's product capabilities, Unifi will invest in the backward integration of the REPREVE supply chain. In addition to providing greater control over the production of the recycled chip that is used to make REPREVE polyester fibers, the new state-of-the-art recycling technology will provide opportunities for the Company to recycle post-consumer and post industrial fabric waste back into REPREVE. Scheduled startup for these new capabilities is February 2011.
"Bringing the extrusion process in-house is a natural next step for us," said Roger Berrier, executive vice president for Unifi. "Being more vertically integrated will significantly increase our product development capabilities and capacity."Unifi also announced that the Company has purchased a 40% interest in a biomass feedstock company. The new joint venture, which will be called REPREVE™ Renewables, will focus on the direct sales of Freedom™ Giant Miscanthus to farmers, who in turn will supply the product to bioenergy and biofuel operations in the U.S. and E.U. Freedom Giant Miscanthus is non-invasive and is the highest-yielding crop available on a commercial scale. Giant Miscanthus is a perennial C4 grass that is extremely efficient in converting sunlight to biomass energy.