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Patagonia to Close its Recycling Loop by 2010

by Alicia MacLeay
January 29, 2007

Patagonia wants even more of your old Capilene underwear, and now your worn-out fleece and cotton T-shirts too.

Patagonia, already known for its environmental ethos, today announced a new goal of taking environmental responsibility for everything they make by having a completely closed-loop apparel line by 2010. That would mean that everything Patagonia makes would be made from recycled materials and be recyclable.

Patagonia launched its Common Threads Recycling Program in the fall of 2005 by asking consumers to send back their worn-out Capilene performance baselayers to be recycled into new pieces. Since then 1,000 pounds of old Capilene has made its way back to Patagonia. Thanks to the EcoCircle fiber-to-fiber recycling system pioneered by Japanese fabric manufacturer Teijin, those old baselayers will be part of the 50 percent (or more) recycled content in Patagonia’s spring 2007 Capilene line.

Now Patagonia is adding Patagonia cotton T-shirts, Patagonia fleece, and any Polartec fleece to their list of Common Threads recyclables. That means you’ll be able to return a worn-out Polartec fleece from any manufacturer to Patagonia’s recycling program. Got a North Face, Arc’teryx, or L.L. Bean Polartec fleece that’s past its life? Patagonia will take it back and give it a second life as part of a new Patagonia garment.

Casey Sheahan, Patagonia president and CEO, says the company is expanding its garment recycling program “because it’s the right thing to do.” He’s also hoping that others in the outdoor industry will follow suit. “It’s not a proprietary effort,” he said of the recycling technology. “It’s available to all companies in the industry.”

The environmental impact of using recycled Capilene is significant. Making new polyester fiber from used garments results in an energy savings of 76 percent and a CO2 emissions (greenhouse gas) reduction of 71 percent, versus creating that fiber from new raw material. And recycled products have no loss in quality compared to virgin polyester. Recycling cotton saves 20,000 liters of water per kilogram of cotton, a water-intensive crop.

In addition to Teijin, Patagonia is partnering with Calamai and Malden Mills, makers of Polartec, to produce the recycled fabrics.

If you want to help Patagonia close the loop, you can mail your tired, old, but clean garments to the Patagonia Service Center (Attention Common Threads Recycling Program, 8550 White Fir Street, Reno, NV 89523-8939) or drop them off at a Patagonia store near you.

You can read more about the Common Threads Capilene recycling program at: