Can Aurifil spools be recycled? Is there something that can be done to reduce your plastic production? How can we reuse our spools to prevent excess waste? Would it be possible to start using recycled plastic for your spools?

These are all questions that we regularly receive from our customers and are questions that we routinely ask ourselves. Finding the answers is not only important to us, it’s a passion. Today’s big news is our first step… it is our way to start tackling the issue of plastic waste.

As one of the leading manufacturers of 100% Cotton thread, we produce millions of yards of thread a year, used by quilters, sewists, and crafters to create quilts, garments, accessories, and other works of art. As most weights of Aurifil thread are wound on a plastic spool, this usage results in a high level of excess plastic. While we encourage traditional recycling and creative repurposing of spools, we also know that something more needs to be done. We’ve witnessed the devastation in our oceans, growing year after year and understand that such a high level of destruction will ultimately have an irreversible effect. We wanted to do something… to change something… to make a lasting and positive impact on our environment.

With a bit of research and determination, we discovered The Plastic Bank, a social enterprise headquartered in Canada which aims to clean up plastic waste from our oceans while providing valuable opportunities for people living in poverty. We took all of the necessary steps to develop a partnership that will allow us to offset our average yearly plastic production rate of 8000kg. This means that our involvement will support the collection and clearing of 8000kg of plastic from our oceans in areas of Haiti, Indonesia, The Philippines, and Brazil.

These efforts render Aurifil Plastic Neutral and we are excited to both give back to our earth while helping to create and promote positive work opportunities for people living in those key areas.

We have been endlessly impressed with the mission of The Plastic Bank. A company built on compassion and the desire for ecological and economical change, they have developed an amazingly smart platform that essentially turns plastic waste into a viable currency.Plastic Bank provides a consistent, above-market rate for plastic waste, thus incentivizing its collection. Individuals who gather the plastic can trade it for money, items or services. Plastic Bank also provides the ability for local entrepreneurs to set up and operate convenience stores for the poor, in which plastic waste is the currency.

Plastic collected through Plastic Bank is recycled and sold at a premium as Social Plastic®. This recycling ecosystem is sustained through the sale and use of that Social Plastic® by some of the world’s largest organizations. Over 1 million supporters have asked brands to support The Plastic Bank and Social Plastic®. In addition to using recycled Social Plastic®, both individuals and companies have the ability to offset theirown plastic footprint by going Plastic Neutral. This is how we unite the world to reduce global poverty while making plastic too valuable to enter our oceans.

We are incredibly honored and humbled to count ourselves among those influential companies and we are proud to be setting a new standard for sustainability in the quilting and textile industry. 


LEARN MORE & GET INVOLVED

Resources:

Articles:

Videos:

 

*Images courtesy of The Plastic Bank.

56 Comments

  1. Love, love, LOVE this. Thank you for taking the steps before you are required to do so. Small steps like this, along with support from your customers, who use their spending voice the only way they can, can make a REAL difference. I will be spreading the word on my quilting blog. ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. Thank you for your support, Roseanne! We are so excited about this first step… about what it means for helping to clear existing plastic waste from our oceans and for the life-changing support it will provide for people living in poverty. Hooray for first steps!

  2. God bless you for joining the Plastic Bank! I shop at Aldi’s where you MUST use your own bags for shopping. Hopefully all grocery stores will adopt this policy!!!! Thank you for being proactive in this important issue!

    1. Thank you for your support, Margaret! We are so excited about this first step and are looking forward to affecting more positive change moving forward!

  3. I applaud any efforts made to help with the plastic problem. But I was hoping you were going to say that you would commit to using compostable cones or cones made from sustainable materials.
    This step is an admirable one, but essentially you are saying that you will continue to use plastic, instead of finding a viable alternative.

      1. I also agree that your efforts to do something about the plastic problem but you are certainly not “plastic neutral” as long as you keep using plastic. Please research other alternatives for your cones. I love your thread but it’s hypocritical of your company to think that by donating to a cleanup effort while still using plastic that will have to be cleaned up is “plastic neutral”.

    1. Hi Chris & Wynell – Thank you so much for your feedback. We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic, and other options — essentially a viable alternative, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something to affect positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This not our final solution… it’s our first step!

      1. That is good to hear. A first step that repairs previous damage while you actively work on something that is more sustainable and earth-friendly is a plan I will support wholeheartedly.

      2. Thank you Beth! We are committed and eager to continue making positive changes… there is much work to be done!! ❤

      3. Great to hear! I am hopeful that your next step will involve using recycled plastic for your spools. Are your existing spools recyclable, if so what is the recycling code of yiur spools? Are they impressed with the code?

        Thank you for a great product and for being proactive in preserving out beautiful world!

  4. Whilst I too am pleased that you will be plastic neutral – this move somewhat misses the point that in addition to offsetting your plastics we all need to take moves to reduce the primary use of plastics. Have you considered biodegradable alternatives for spools?

    1. Hi Jen — Thank you so much for your feedback. We are working hard to make additional positive change. We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic, and other options, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something and start affecting positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This is not our final solution… it’s our first step!

      1. Since the plastic spools are not a food product, is there a reasonable way to reuse them if customers send back the empty spools? I do that with ink cartridges. I would happily pay postage to mail them for reuse. Thank you for doing what you can to help our planet

      2. Hi Tina — I’m hoping that you are able to see this reply… wordpress isn’t allowing me to reply directly to you! All of our manufacturing is done in Italy, which complicates matters for a send-back program. There are other factors at play as well. We strongly encourage creative repurposing of spools locally, which would also make less of a carbon footprint. We have customers (one who commented here) who donate old spools to schools — they are particularly handy in Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade for everything from Arts & Craft projects to learning all about addition and subtraction. We also work with a designer who refashions the spool pieces into statement jewelry. We will be sharing a series on creative repurposting within the next few weeks and are always looking for new ideas! We truly appreciate your feedback and will be taking all feedback that we receive into consideration as we continue our quest to increase Aurifil’s commitment to enviromental sustainability. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Janie! Thank you so much for your support! We are so excited about this first step and are looking forward more positive change to come!

  5. I think the plastic spools should be changed to heavy duty cardboard or some equivalent that can be biodegradable. But l also think all plastic should be converted into to a more earth friendly substance. Thanks for (hopefully) making a change for the better. PattiK

    1. Hi Patti – Thanks so much for your feedback! We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic, and other options, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something and start affecting positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This is not our final solution… it’s our first step! Thank you ❤

  6. I am pleased to see this step from Aurifil, and I commend it. We all should do more to nurture our planet and home. However, have you fallen short with your commitment to remain plastic neutral? Could Aurifil also USE Social Plastic in your process and thus become plastic negative?

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback and your support. We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic (even Social Plastic!), and other options, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something and start affecting positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This is not our final solution… it’s our first step!

  7. That is a fantastic first step…I think biodegradable plastic for the spools and also the boxes would be good. Even the wrapping of the spools could be looked at.

    1. HI Karen, Thank you so much for your feedback! We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic, and other options, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something and start affecting positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This is not our final solution… it’s our first step! Thank you for following along with us!

  8. Fabulous!! Aurifil is already the best thread on the planet, and now it is environmentally better too! I do hope that eventually using the recycled plastic wherever possible will become part of the mix, after all, there has to be a market for using what we clean up and recycle. Making new plastic from old is much better than creating more. Kudos to you!!!

    1. Hi Carole – Thank you so much for your feedback and support! We are certainly looking into the recycled plastic option as well, but as big changes to our manufacturing take time to refine, perfect, and implement, we wanted to take this first step with The Plastic Bank to start affecting postivie change now. We’re looking forward to the continued fight to improve! Thank you for following along with us!

  9. Are Aurifil spools included in the materials eligible for this recycling program? Are you offering an alternative spool material? Your continued use of plastic makes me question your “plastic neutral” claim. As a “first step” in your recycling journey, can you track significant results? Respectfully submitted.

    1. Hi Sandy — thank you so much for your feedback! Our work with the Plastic Bank is our way to help address the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. While we continue to research options for alternative materials for our own spool production, something which takes time to refine, perfect, and implement, we wanted to start by doing something to both help clean up our oceans and provide life-changing assistance for people living in poverty. We believe that significant results are being made by clearing an additional 8000kg of plastic from the ocean, a total equal to our annual plastic production. Thank you again for following along with us!

  10. I appaude your efforts to help the oceans of our world. Aurifil is my favorite and only thread ! I personally recycle the plastic tube and bottoms for teachers. A friend teaches 1st grade, she will give them to her students to count and practice their numbers. Great huh?

    1. Hi Debbie — Thanks so much for your support! We love hearing about new ways to repurpose the spools! How wonderful that you pass them along to a teacher! My daughter is in kindergarten and just working on simple addition and subtraction and now I’m wishing I had more spool bottoms to do the same thing;). Thank you for your creativity — I’m sure those kiddos love it! Enjoy your weekend!

  11. Well done Aurifil. A good start but I know we can do better. Even a return to the old fashioned wooden spool might be a possibility? At least they are bio-degradable.

    I will follow your progress with interest!

    1. Good afternoon! We don’t currently have a program set up for spool return. All of our thread is manufactured at our headquarters in Milan, Italy, which does complicate matters. We do so appreciate and value your feedback and will take it into consideration as we continue our quest to increase Aurifil’s commitment to enviromental sustainability.

  12. Why not just recycle and reuse the spools and deduct say 20p each time a new thread is purchased and the empty spool is returned to you

    1. Hi Elaine – Thank you so much for your feedback. Please know that our announcement about The Plastic Bank is our first step, not our final solution. We value your suggestions and will take them into consideration as we continue our quest to increase Aurifil’s commitment to enviromental sustainability.

  13. It’s like throwing litter and cleaning someone’s else up . I didn’t get it ? There’s no forward thinking or change ? Wooden spools are beautiful I am sure they can be made from compressed wood pulp nowadays and be sturdy. Still more forward thinking needs to be done. I applaud your efforts with plastic bank but off setting a problem is not changing a problem.

    1. Hi Nicola — We are researching different materials, the use of recycled plastic, and other options, but many of these methods take time to refine and implement. We wanted to start doing something and start affecting positive change now and so made the decision to partner with The Plastic Bank. This is not our final solution… it’s our first step!

      I did also want to note that two of our thread weights are already available on wooden spools:

      Aurifloss: https://www.aurifil.com/products/aurifil-cotton-floss
      80wt: https://www.aurifil.com/products/aurifil-cotton-80wt

      We truly value your feedback and will take it into consideration as we continue our quest to increase Aurifil’s commitment to enviromental sustainability. There is always more work to be done!

  14. Just wanted to add my vote that this is a good first step, glad to read in the above comments that your company continues to explore better alternatives to the virgin plastic cone. I vote with my wallet so companies that are actively moving to be better stewards get my business and recommendations.

    1. Hi Liese – Thank you so much for your support! We are committed to making positive change. We’re really excited to have taken this first step! ❤

  15. Just read the comment about using wooden spools. I live n North Carolina where logging leaves large areas of land looking like a nuclear bomb site and loss of habitat is seen for years in reduced bird population and nesting. I cannot see how changing to a wood spool would be a step in the right direction. Perhaps compressed paper, perhaps using hemp as the fiber might be an interesting option if the hemp is grown on already established farm land.

    1. Hi Liese – Thank you for this… that is absolutely one of the things that we think about. We don’t want to reduce our footprint in one area just to increase it in another… whether it be deforestation, carbon footprint, or something else. Ultimately, we’re working on ways to make our company more environmentally sustainable. Change is certainly needed!

  16. Thanks for this forward thinking initiative… makes me love Aurifil all the more!
    I do feel guilty about my accumulation of the spools. I have donated some empty spools to a school teacher who had the kids using them to make building and craft projects.
    Would love more ideas for what to do with my empty spools!

  17. Euch siebzehn eindringen anzuhören dessentwegen Gerede golfen unterstützen und verwenden tun cognacfarben zu Händen von prickelnd und derjenigen unterhalb überlappen Gluten pünktlich ziemlich mitsegeln Geld herumzuhuren Geld machen und samt Frühstückszerealie US-amerikanisch zu kombiniert entfernter Freibauer korrelieren Pfund außer didaktisch.

  18. Another reason to love Aurifil thread! This is a great initiative and I love love love what you are doing with The Plastic Bank. I hate to think of the damage done and continued to be done on this great earth and my part in it. I need to be more and more intentional about what I do, too, that is harmful to the environment. As an Island Batik Ambassador who has been recieving your thread and loving it (I did use it before being an ambassador), I’ll spread the news on my blog and point folks to this valuable information.

  19. Three Cheers for Aurifil! Not only are their threads the best, but their committment to us and our planet is admirable and greatly appreciated. All companies need to follow their example! I’ll spread this news and make sure to include Aurifil links on all my websites and blogs. Thank you, Aurifil!

  20. I am confused. I live in Philadelphia, USA. Will there be a convenience store here? Who and where exactly is collecting happening? Recycling helps but the way to solve the plastic problem is for companies to stop using plastic.

  21. Unlike many of your commenters, I’m not against using plastic. It’s a very handy, recyclable material, and I think it’s going to be around a long time. We do need to find responsible answers to questions about recycling it. Your first step is actually a great step, solving two problems at once. I love the idea of collectors being able to use the plastic as money at the stores. That’s huge! I’m so glad you’ve partnered with this Canadian company to do some good in the world. Thank you.

  22. I love the idea of the Company recycling and environmentally friendly alternatives. What about the simple act of Aurifil accepting the empty plastic spools back and reusing them? I would even be willing to bulk ship the spools back to the company myself at my own expense. Or, partner with quilt/fabric stores to establish drop boxes for empty spools.
    Anyone else see this as an option?
    There has to be a way of incorporating this process into the cycle?
    It seems like an ‘easy’ solution to me? Any thoughts on this?

  23. Glad to hear about ‘Aurifil’ first step in trying to save planet! I use my empty spools when making ‘bug hotel’ for my garden. Bugs might prefer wood or some other natural material, but even plastic gets it ‘tenats’ ..

  24. Hi Erin. I am happy to read that this is just step one and that you are working towards other solutions for the spools, and of course it will take time and research…..now what about the plastic that is wrapped around the thread…..I’m guessing you are trying to come up with something there as well.

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