Recycled plastic is in fashion right now

Every garment made by this brand helps in recycling on average 10-12 plastic bottles  

Unirec is one of the few sustainable brands from India that manufactures garments made from recycled PET bottles. Every garment made by the brand helps in recycling on average 10-12 plastic bottles of 1 ltr each. There are brands that do manufacture t-shirts but Unirec is the first brand in the country that not only manufactures trendy t-shirts but also formal jackets, sleeveless jackets, and trousers, and very soon will be launching their women's collection also.

We talk to Kapil Bhatia, the founder of the brand, to know more about this green initiative:

What inspired the creation of Unirec, and how did the journey begin?

One day, during an exhibition, a gentleman approached us seeking uniforms for his company. His request was unique: he wanted them made from recycled plastic bottles. This encounter sparked a profound idea. Researching further, I discovered that Europe had a thriving industry producing garments from recycled plastic, mainly focusing on casual wear.

Later, I heard my son mentioning a troubling prediction -- by 2050, the oceans would be even more inundated with plastic waste. His question about why nothing was being done to prevent it left me speechless. This concept resonated deeply, leading to the birth of the brand with a mission encapsulated in its name, U-N-I RECycle.

Established in 2021 in Mumbai, it embarked on its journey, driven by the vision of sustainability. Our inaugural order for 500 t-shirts made from recycled plastic, fulfilled for a bank, marked our humble beginnings. As we expanded our product line to include formal and casual wear, we aimed to offer conscious consumers an affordable yet eco-friendly solution. The brand became a beacon of sustainability in the realm of corporate garments, advocating for a greener future, one recycled thread at a time.

Can you walk us through the process of transforming PET bottles into high-quality fabrics for your garments?

We purchase all our fabrics from GRS (Global Recycled Standards) certified suppliers who in turn purchase the yarn from the same ecosystem and the yarn manufacturers procure the fibres to make the yarn. These fibres are manufactured at a recycling facility where pet/plastic bottles are recycled.

The process of converting plastic bottles to fabric started with collecting plastic bottles from various sources, and are further sorted according to their colour. These bottles are then sanitised and cleaned to remove impurities. The bottles are then ready to process further and dried properly. Plastic bottles are then shredded into tiny pieces and melted. This plastic is then stretched into yarns, which are spun into threads, and then woven into fabric rolls for further textile processing. These woven textile rolls are then used to cut and sewn the eco-friendly clothes.

How do you ensure the quality and durability of garments made from recycled PET bottles, especially when it comes to more formal attire?

You can't tell the difference between the regular fabric and the recycled one. The quality and durability of our product are equivalent to the regular good quality fabric. Our garments are breathable, comfortable and are proudly made in India.

Could you share insights on the environmental impact of your operations, particularly in terms of plastic bottle recycling and carbon emission reductions?

Not only are the garments made from recycled fabrics, they help in reducing carbon emissions by almost 2 kg every time we manufacture a garment. Now, imagine a corporate with 10,000 employees who are provided uniforms of three shirts and two trousers every year. If the same garments are now made from recycled fabrics, that corporate will offset its carbon footprint by almost 1 lakh kg or 100 tonnes per annum.

Over the past 30 months, we have achieved significant milestones, selling more than 50,000 garments made from recycled PET bottles. This not only translates to the recycling of 6 lakh PET bottles but also marks a remarkable reduction of over 100 tonnes of carbon emissions and the recycling of 6000 kg of plastic bottles. We are involved with projects that use recycled fibres to create fabrics. We sold over 20,000 garments in the last six months, saving almost 1,20,000 plastic bottles from ending up in landfills and polluting the ocean.

This collection extends a warm invitation to women of all shapes and sizes

You are set to launch a women's collection soon. What can customers expect from this new range in terms of style and sustainability?

Sustainability will remain the core of our brand. It will be the underlying predicament for every collection that we launch whether men’s women’s or kids. In terms of style, we aim to be an easy going, every day fashion brand, which can be worn to a café as well as to a workplace. Though we will keep coming up with the new collaborations like Netflix and The Archies.

Looking toward to the future, what innovative steps are you considering to further the brand’s mission in sustainable fashion?

Circularity is the core of sustainability. Our next major push is going to be towards circularity and once we have created the entire circularity programme we will make a big announcement about it.

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