SOURCE: Patagonia

August 18, 2005 19:52 ET

Patagonia Announces Revolutionary Garment Recycling Program With Teijin

Becomes One of the First Global Companies in the World to Implement Garment Recycling

VENTURA, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 18, 2005 -- Patagonia, Inc., the outdoor gear and apparel company, in partnership with Teijin, a progressive fabric manufacturer in Japan, announced today the launch of the Common Threads Recycling Program. This revolutionary program asks Patagonia customers to return their worn-out Capilene® baselayers (a.k.a., long underwear) to Patagonia, to be recycled into new garments. Worn-out Capilene baselayers will feed Patagonia's own supply chain to make new Capilene in future seasons. With the launch of this recycling program, Patagonia becomes one of the first global companies in the world to launch a garment take-back recycling program.

Research shows that the environmental impact of using worn-out Capilene baselayers to make new polyester fiber is significantly lower than making that same fiber from virgin materials. Via the Common Threads Recycling Program, worn-out garments are diverted from trash incinerators. Making new polyester fiber from used garments, that have been mailed from customers to Patagonia, results in an energy savings of 76 percent and a CO2 emissions [greenhouse gasses] reduction of 71 percent, versus creating that fiber from new raw material.

"Our goal is to take responsibility for every product we make. This includes responsibility for the fibers a garment is made of, as well as what happens to a product at the end of its useful life. Garment recycling is simply our first step towards a truly environmentally sound process," explained Michael Crooke, president and CEO of Patagonia.

"We recognize that everything we make pollutes -- and most of it eventually ends up in landfills. Moving forward, with our customers' help, the 1.3 million Capilene pieces we sell each year will potentially live on in perpetuity."

Effective September 12, 2005, customers may return used Capilene baselayers to Patagonia, via mail or at any of the 20 Patagonia retail stores nationwide. These worn-out baselayers will then be transported via container ships (which usually travel back to Asia empty) to Teijin's recycling facilities in Japan. There they will be broken down and made into new Capilene garments using Teijin's EcoCircle™ fiber-to-fiber recycling system. With EcoCircle, worn-out polyester garments are recycled into virgin-quality fibers by breaking down the fabric to the molecular level and creating new polyester raw material. Beginning in Spring 2007, Patagonia's Capilene baselayers will be made with more than 50% recycled content, using garments collected from customers.

"It was critical for us to find a partner who could help us keep our product out of the landfill at the end of its useful life. With Teijin's help, we'll feed our own supply chain with used Capilene baselayers rather than relying solely on scarce virgin resources like petroleum," said Crooke. "It's our hope that many other companies will recognize the value of garment recycling and take advantage of this revolutionary system."

"EcoCircle is a perfect example Teijin's commitment to developing technologies that are friendly to people and the environment," said Yoshinaga Karasawa, senior managing director and chief marketing officer of Teijin. "We are very pleased that Patagonia will be the first company to use the EcoCircle recycling system in the U.S., and we hope that other companies will follow Patagonia's lead and participate in this innovative system."

Just as Patagonia pioneered the use of recycled soda bottles in fleece and was the first company in the outdoor industry to switch to 100% organic cotton, the company aims to pave the way for others to get on the garment recycling bandwagon. For more information, visit Contact Teijin to see how other companies can participate.

About Patagonia

Patagonia is noted internationally for its commitment to product quality and environmental activism. Its Environmental Grants Program has contributed over $20M in cash and in-kind donations to grassroots environmental activists since the program began in 1985, and its Environmental Internship Program allows employees to work for environmental groups while receiving their full paycheck. Incorporating environmental responsibility in to product development, the company supports the ambitious mission statement: "To make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." Since 1996, Patagonia has used only organically grown cotton in its clothing line, and is noted worldwide for using recycled soda bottles in many of its polyester fleece garments beginning in 1993. Sales for 2004 were $240 million.

About Teijin

The Teijin Group (Teijin) is a multinational enterprise comprised of nearly 160 companies in seven business groups including textile fibers, industrial fibers, films, plastics, medical and pharmaceuticals, fiber marketing products and IT. The company's brand statement, "Human Chemistry, Human Solutions," communicates their commitment to developing cutting-edge technologies that are friendly to humans and the environment. For the past five years, Teijin has been ranked as a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, which evaluate the economic and environmental performances of companies. Teijin established the world's first chemical recycling technologies for fibers, films and bottles. EcoCircle is organized by Teijin Fibers Ltd., the core company of the textile fibers business group. Sales for 2004 were $8.5 billion.

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