It’s a clear example how sports brands can commit to saving the environment

Founded by a group of surfers in Australia in 1969, Quiksilver isn’t just a brand built on its history of providing surfwear and boardsport equipment. 

Over the years, it has committed to give back and protect the environment. Its long-running recycling program has just hit the 100 million-bottle mark. Since the program began in 2012, about 3,500 tons of plastic have already been repurposed into boardshorts, jackets, and other garments.

Made from fossil fuels, plastic is a raw material that everyone encounters every day. Only 10 percent of all plastic produced worldwide is currently recycled—the rest ends up in a landfill or worse, the ocean. Today, large amounts of plastic floating in the ocean are threatening both marine life and the global climate.

On the other hand, arguably the most environmentally meaningful step of a production cycle is the creation of raw materials. In an effort to take on an active role in saving the environment, a partnership with Repreve (fibers made from recycled materials including plastic bottles) was conceived to substantially lessen the amount of discarded and unused plastic and reduce the negative effects of raw material production.

For each boardshort, 10 to 11 recycled bottles are used

That is, by cleverly opting to utilize recycled polyester, which consumes significantly lower amounts of energy (45 percent) and water (20 percent) than virgin polyester. Overall, recycled fabric produces less than a third of greenhouse gases compared with conventional polyester fabric. 

For each boardshort from the eco line, 10 to 11 recycled bottles are put to good use. The process starts by turning used plastic bottles into plastic flake, which is then converted into chips. The chips are then melted, extruded, and converted into yarn that carries the same performance qualities as conventional polyester. The 100 million bottles recycled through this program has saved close to nine million liters of drinking water and provide the annual energy consumption of close to 1,000 households.

“As surfers and snowboarders we need to think about the future, so our grandchildren can enjoy the mountain and the wave we love so much. Up-cycling plastic waste into something that is useful for us, even today, is an important step,” says Garry Wall, Quiksilver global general manager.

“Recycling is one thing, reducing is another,” says Wall. “One hundred million bottles are a milestone, now we are working on a refined strategy to fight plastic waste through innovative products and actions.”