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Over the next 10 years, college graduates from the class of 2016 are estimated to use more than 3 billion plastic bottles, and with the U.S. recycling rate at only 31 percent, more than 2 billion of those plastic bottles will likely end up in landfills where they may never biodegrade. That’s why a textile manufacturer, Unifi, Inc. (NYSE:UFI), is educating college students, along with the general public, about the importance of recycling and buying products that are made with recycled materials. The Company transforms recycled plastic bottles into fiber called REPREVE®, and works with Oak Hall Cap & Gown to turn it into fabric for graduation gowns worn by more than 400,000 graduates in schools across the country. Among those using REPREVE-based gowns are Brown University, Michigan State, University of Alabama and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as more than 1,250 other schools.

“Graduation is a unifying moment in time and a perfect opportunity to reach millennials, who can be a powerful voice for change in our society,” said Jay Hertwig, vice president of global branding for Unifi, Inc. “There remains shockingly low participation in recycling programs, and we believe this is largely because people don’t understand that high-quality products can be made from recycled plastic bottles.”

To increase understanding of what happens to plastic bottles, and to empower individuals to choose the recycling bin instead of the trash can, Unifi has taken to the road with a recycling education tour. The national #TurnItGreen mobile tour makes stops at universities, retail locations, major entertainment and sporting events, and elementary schools across the United States. REPREVE features familiar brands – such as Polartec, Volcom and Ford – to showcase the array of high-quality REPREVE-based products that can be transformed from plastic bottles when consumers recycle. For example, it takes 27 recycled plastic bottles to produce an Oak Hall graduation gown, five to create a pair of Volcom Mod-Tech boardshorts, and eight for a pair of Haggar dress pants, saving billions of bottles because these products are made with REPREVE.

“The #TurnItGreen tour brings to life the idea that recycling truly makes a difference for the environment, and we want to help college graduates understand how such a simple action can make such a significant impact,” added Hertwig. “The well-known brands we work with realize that they, too, can make a difference by using recycled materials like REPREVE in their products. Our work with Oak Hall gives us the opportunity to engage with college students who are about to go out into the world and continue their education beyond the classroom, and we’re thrilled to be a part of that education transformation.”

REPREVE is used in a variety of auto, outdoor, home and apparel products by some of the world’s favorite brands, including Levi’s, The North Face, Haggar, Yukon Outfitters and Pottery Barn. Since the introduction of REPREVE, Unifi has recycled and transformed more than 4 billion plastic bottles into fiber for REPREVE-based products. To learn more about REPREVE and the impact the brand is making, visit, or search for REPREVE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.