Graduation gowns at Utah university made of recycled plastic

In this May 3, 2018, photo, soon-to-be graduates make their way toward the UCCU Center before Utah Valley University's 77th Commencement Ceremony, in Orem, Utah. Recycled graduation gowns worn by Utah Valley University graduates saved an estimated 70,000 plastic bottles from landfills this year, the Daily Herald reports. (Isaac Hale/Daily Herald, via AP)

OREM, Utah (AP) — Graduation gowns worn by Utah Valley University graduates saved an estimated 70,000 plastic bottles from landfills this year, officials said.

The ceremonial gowns for the university in Orem came from Oak Hall Cap & Gown, which uses recycled plastic bottles to make regalia, The Daily Herald reported Wednesday.

This is the fifth year students have worn the recycled and recyclable gowns in the graduation ceremony at the university 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City. Commencement and convocation events took place Thursday and Friday.

“Nobody has ever said, ‘This gown looks cheap,'” said Kevin Walkenhorst, senior director of alumni relations. “You would never, ever know.”

Each gown takes about 23 bottles to make. The process includes chopping and melting the plastic into a filament yarn that is woven and dyed, according to the company based in Salem, Virginia.

The black gowns are wrinkle resistant, lightweight and softer than the polyester normally used in the traditional graduation attire, Oak Hall’s website said.

There is no cost difference compared to polyester and using recycled materials fits the school’s sustainability mission, Walkenhorst said.

“As our students wear their caps and gowns, we want them to know they are helping provide a sustainable environment and campus,” Walkenhorst said.

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