Its first backward integration into processing baled bottles instead of ground flake.

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Unifi Manufacturing Inc. is investing $25 million at its recycling facility in Greensboro, N.C., a move that will help the firm achieve its goal of backward integration into bottle processing for its Repreve recycled fiber product line.

Two machine builders are combining on the project. Amut SpA (North American office in Woodbridge, Ont.) will supply a new PET washing line. Unifi will use Amut’s patented dry de-labeling system to remove the shrink-sleeve wraps from the post-consumer PET bottles. Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Ore., will furnish a front-end PET purification system with nine optical sorters from National Recovery Technologies, another BHS business. The system also will feature the latest in screens and air-sorting technology.

BHS says the system will process 22,000 lb/hr of baled materials by removing the non-PET content and preparing the PET for conversion from bottles to flake. The flake is used to make Unifi’s Repreve polyester yarns and fibers, which go into product brands like Haggar, Ford, and Quicksilver.

Since 2009, Unifi has recycled flake from more than 4 billion plastic bottles into Repreve-based products. The new bottle processing plant will produce about 75 million lb of recycled PET materials when it begins operation in June 2016.

“This state-of-the-art facility will raise the bar for Unifi, allowing us to internalize the majority of our flake requirements as we continue to expand our Repreve filament and polymer chip business,” said Mark McNeill, Unifi’s v.p. of technology and business development.