My graduation gown is made of recycled plastic bottles.
And your shirt might be too.
You drink a bottle of water. You see the recycling bin ahead. Thoughts race through your mind. Do I need to remove the cap? Is my bottle empty enough? Is this actually going to make it to a recycling plant? Even if it does, what happens next?
There are many misconceptions about recycling. Without a solid idea of what happens to recyclable waste, many assume they aren’t making a difference. This contributes to the extremely low plastic bottle recycling rate in America, which has been reported at roughly 31%. However, a brand like REPREVE®, an extension of Unifi Inc. that uses recycled bottles to make yarn for textile products, has the power to change this mindset as well as make a huge impact on sustainable business practices.
Considering REPREVE® doesn’t sell any direct to consumer products, they have a wide digital media presence that is eye catching and engaging. They started a campaign using #TurnItGreen to gather engagement from younger consumers. They have an attractive website, an active twitter feed with almost 11 thousand followers, and roughly 90 thousand followers on Facebook. Digging a little deeper you can find a Youtube presence with videos from large brands like The Discovery Channel and Patagonia. The brand even creates its own content in conjunction with the events and people they promote. For example, REPREVE® is a new sponsor of the X Games, helping to create greener signage, lanyards, and merchandise. The videos seem genuine and well made, and have a few thousand views on each. All of this helps to grow trust from the consumers and greater awareness for their cause.
But REPREVE® is facing the same problem as the rest of America. If people aren’t recycling bottles, REPREVE® has no raw materials for their products. So even with a strong digital presence, it is important to consider the brand’s relevancy in the minds of their consumers and also consumers who have little prior engagement with sustainable apparel or recycling. Without this, the brand is unable to create a new desire to recycle because what they are saying is falling on deaf ears, or on the same ears that have been hearing them all along.
Relevancy can be judged by many different factors such as how much engagement a brand is obtaining from consumers, or how likely it is for a customer to promote your brand themselves. From the looks of REPREVE®’s digital media platforms, it doesn’t seem like there is much direct consumer engagement. The brand needs valuable consumers to tag their friends in Instagram and Facebook posts, retweet campaigns, and discover them on the social media platforms of their partners.
In regards to partners, REPREVE® is working with many huge well known brands like Ford, Patagonia, and Fossil. They even create materials for over 400,000 graduation gowns at universities like NC State and Brown University. REPREVE® features both brands and products directly on their website, creating a transparent and innovative hub for potential consumers to find more information.
However, it seems that many of their partners aren’t giving REPREVE® the same courtesy. Using recycled bottles to make apparel is something that many consumers would be incredibly interested in, especially in the outdoor apparel sector. By ensuring the REPREVE ® is featured on the websites of these partner brands and products the brand could attract more interest. Above you can see the only mention of REPREVE® on Fossil product page.
So how can REPREVE® convince more Americans to recycle plastic bottles and also buy responsibly made products? The answer ties back into relevancy. The more relevant REPREVE® is, the more relevant recycling is, for both a great cause and a great product.