Post-Consumer Recycling | 2 MINUTE READ

Detroit Lions QB Practice Jerseys Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles

During the preseason scrimmage on August 8, the Detroit Lions quarterbacks had a different look— a very green one.


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During the preseason scrimmage on August 8, the Detroit Lions quarterbacks had a different look— a very green one. In a cool blend of sports and plastics recycling, the quarterbacks wore practice jerseys made from recycled plastic bottles. These green jerseys are part of a sustainability partnership the team has with Unifi’s Repreve brand. In fact, the Detroit Lions are the only team in the NFL with quarterback practice jerseys made from recycled plastic bottles. Unifi transforms plastic bottles into Repreve recycled fibers that are used by brands such as Ford, Haggar, Polartec, Quiksilver and Volcom. (For more info about Unifi, check out my recent story: AMUT And Bulk Handling Systems To Provide Equipment For Unifi Recycling Plant).


Last year, the Lions partnered with Repreve on a campaign to encourage fans to toss their bottles into recycling bins instead of trash cans. The partnership included 500 new recycling bins throughout Ford Field and the Lions challenged their fans to achieve a 100% recycling rate. Repreve, the Lions and their fans recycled nearly 60,000 bottles last year. For a game in December, the team gave out 65,000 towels that were made from 195,000 bottles.


Here’s a video that highlights the initiative:



“We are very excited to have Repreve back for another year of a great sustainable partnership,” said Detroit Lions Team President Tom Lewand. “We look forward to the continuation of this aggressive recycling effort and showcasing Repreve-based products created from recycled plastic bottles to our fans.” During the Oct. 25 game against the Minnesota Vikings, Repreve will host a “Make the Smart Throw” challenge during game day where one lucky fan will get the chance to win up to $50,000 for completing a series of difficult throws on the field.


“This continued partnership with the Lions provides us a unique platform to educate fans on the importance of recycling and sustainability,” said Roger Berrier, president and chief operating officer of Unifi.  “Compared to other countries, the United States recycles significantly fewer plastic materials, with less than 32 percent being recycled. Together with the Lions, we can show fans that through the simple act of recycling, they can play a role in transforming plastic bottles into great consumer products.”


To further educate consumers on the cool products that can be made from recycled bottles, Repreve will launch a national recycling tour later this year. The tour will make stops across the U.S., including Ford Field, giving consumers a chance to recycle their plastic bottles in exchange for Repreve-based products.


Don’t know what kind of season the Lions will have, however, other teams could definitely draw some ideas from its sustainability playbook.