Cintas Corp., the nation's largest uniform supplier, stated it has helped eliminate more than 15 million plastic bottles from the waste stream by repurposing plastic waste in its eco-apparel product line.
The company, which manufactures corporate uniforms and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, and more, said it has also reduced water use, packaging, and chemical waste, which is all part of the company's green initiatives.
A Cintas company spokesperson told PlasticsToday the eco-apparel line stemmed from a focus to improve the company's processes and provide environmentally responsible products.
"In addition, many of our hospitality partners were looking for ways to improve the sustainability of their operations, so we wanted to be able to provide them with a suiting option that would not only improve their environmental commitment, but also made their employees look and feel good," the spokesperson said.
In 2011, the company's eco-apparel, made from recycled polyester fiber, repurposed 16.9-oz plastic bottles into sustainable tops, bottoms, scrubs, and washable tuxedos. For example, the regeneration suiting collection from Cintas diverts approximately 25 plastic bottles from the waste stream with the construction of each suit.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), manufacturing products made from recycled plastic require 66% less energy, and reduces water use by 90%.
"Plastic waste can be recycled into polyester, which is a staple in the uniform industry due to its durability," the spokesperson said. "Extending our sustainability practices throughout all divisions has been a key initiative and something we wanted to offer our customers."
The spokesperson said there isn't a noticeable difference to the average person when comparing recycled versus virgin polyester.
"Customers love the eco-apparel line; it's a way for them to contribute and make a difference by wearing a product that contributes to waste reduction and increases recycling of plastic material," the spokesperson said. "The material is comfortable and the eco-apparel is machine washable, which is an added environmental benefit of this product. "