CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABILITY: BLACKYAK'S ROLE IN REVOLUTIONIZING PET RECYCLING IN SOUTH KOREA
The story of K-rPET —Korean Recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, also known as polyester) begins in 2018, when China's ban on plastic waste imports disrupted the global waste management chain, and created a waste crisis in South Korea—witnessing a dramatic surge in plastic use, without municipal plastic recycling infrastructure in place. This crisis drove innovation, making environmental responsibility not optional but necessary for businesses.
In response, BlackYak —Nau’s parent company— collaborated with the Korean government to pioneer innovative PET recycling in the country. By partnering with synthetic fiber manufacturer TK Chemical and local governments, they established a cooperative system to collect transparent PET bottles and create products from them. They also collaborated with water bottle companies to create transparent bottles, which are crucial for recycling into drink bottles or polyester thread. PET bottles and polyester share the same material, allowing bottles to be transformed into thread. These flakes are then processed into uniform chips, and synthetic fiber manufacturers turn them into thread for functional apparel.
The initiative began in 2020 when BlackYak became the first company in Korea to manufacture functional apparel using Korean recycled PET (K-rPET), a fiber sourced from PET bottles collected within the country. In fact—BlackYak's Winter 2023 collection is almost all made using K-rPET. The recycled polyester styles are sturdy, soft, lightweight, and dry easily — the ultimate for comfort outdoors.
This collaborative effort aims to reduce reliance on imported discarded plastic, fostering a sustainable resource circulation system. Recycling PET bottles in lieu of using raw petroleum materials results in a remarkable 65% reduction in carbon emissions and a 70% decrease in energy consumption during production.The emphasis on waste reduction and recycling has already led to a significant drop in daily household waste generation and a recycling rate of 60%. As South Korea strives to reduce plastic waste and increase recycling, it aims to reduce waste by 50% and recycle 70% of plastic waste by 2030. While challenges remain, including limitations on further recycling of plastic bottle-based garments, South Korea's progress in recycling and sustainability serves as an inspiring example of how innovative solutions and dedicated efforts can transform a nation's waste management practices. The journey towards a greener, more sustainable future continues, with businesses like BlackYak leading the way. Sources: The New York Times, The Korea Herald, Green Future Index 2022
Welcome to the first in a new series we're calling the nau guides, covering a range of topics related to outdoor enrichment in the Pacific Northwest and sustainability in fashion.
Nau, we love Portland for its proximity to stunning natural scenes, of course, but also for “keeping it weird” with some very fun local community events. Here is a round up of some of the nau staff favorites throughout the year. We are adding them to the calendar and thought you might want to as well— whether you live here or are planning your trip to the PNW.We’ll see you there! (Wear your nau apparel so we know to say hello. 😉)
"It's is more of a natural event, but it's spring blooms in the Gorge! Only lasts about 2 weeks and it's spectacular. The Dog Mountain hike is fab!"
—Erica, store manager
"My favorite annual event is to enjoy Cherry Blossoms in Tom McCall Waterfront Park between Morrison Bridge and Steel Bridge every March. I feel the Spring comes to Portland again when I enjoy the Cherry Blossoms there."
"I would say the St. Johns Parade is my favorite, usually there’s a 'bizarre' with shops and bands to go along with it. Great event for all ages. It hasn’t happened for a couple years but hopefully it will be back this year, usually mid-May."
- JB, graphic design
"The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, OR is beautiful and a fun scene."
"My favorite event is the Portland Rose Festival —because it signifies the beginning of summer with fun events including parades, the starlight run, and especially the dragon boat races
- Josh, accounting manager
"Portland Pickles baseball games: Fun, cheap, easy, good for families. Close to Zoiglhaus Brewing to pregame 😊"
- Anthony, operations manager
"Usually the Corgi Walk and the Mt. Tabor Soapbox Derby happen on the same day in August — it's one of my favorite Saturdays in the entire summer."
-Amanda, marketing manager
"Rose City Comic Con in September—not super unique to PDX, but I go almost every year. Fun time to be nerdy, and in early October: Greek Fest — A Portland tradition! Fill up on delicious Greek food!"
"My pick for PNW event is Mt Angel Oktoberfest. It's super family friendly and fun for all ages."
—Youngsoon, product line manager