This joint initiative helps Zara move toward a circular supply chain and is part of the Sustainability Innovation Hub that Zara parent Inditex has developed. The hub is a platform that promotes the discovery of technologies, materials and processes. It supports the fashion brand in limiting its impact on the environment and adopting sustainable solutions.
“Zara is one of the largest fashion brands in the world, a testament to its power to influence real change within the industry,” Renewcell CEO Patrik Lundström said. “Collaborations with such global brands bring our vision to change fashion at scale to life, and our rapid growth would not be possible without partners like Zara joining this shift. We are delighted to reveal this collection made with Circulose as the latest step in our ongoing collaboration.”
Creating Circulose involves a recycling process that dissolves cotton cellulose from textile waste such as jeans into cellulose pulp without the need to incorporate wood pulp, which takes immense pressure off forests. The pulp is sent to producers and made into viscose fibres, then spun into new yarns and fabrics.
Renewcell will soon be able to expand its production at scale to accommodate brands of all sizes, in its new plant in Sundsvall, Sweden. This will save tonnes of textile waste from going to landfills, where it takes more than 200 years to decompose.
During decomposition, textiles emit greenhouse methane gas, toxic chemicals and dyes into the ground. In Australia alone, about 240,000 tonnes of textile waste goes to landfills each year.
The key to the fashion industry becoming circular is building in a regenerative system to ensure garments are in use for as long as possible. At the end of its lifecycle, a piece can be broken down to create something new or go back to the earth in a sustainable and safe manner.
Brands should be designing clothes with the end in mind and have a clear strategy for a garment’s afterlife. Options include clothing take-back schemes, upcycled collections, and textile recycling. Many large brands have created their own sustainability initiatives in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These provide huge benefits to the environment, their local communities, and customers.
When it comes to fashion, however, can the largest fast-fashion brand in the world be the answer to turning the industry circular?
Sustainability at scale
In truth, for the fashion industry to generate any real and lasting change, it needs sustainability at scale. The Renewcells of the world can delve deep into the root causes of fashion’s wasteful problems and design new processes to take their place – but the new processes must be easy enough for the largest fast-fashion brands to adopt. Then fast fashion can be part of the solution, rather than the problem.
Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment, literally. But for the last decade, tackling the problems surrounding waste has been a challenge. However, awareness has increased. Evidence is shining a light on the most wasteful industries and the detrimental global impact hyper-consumerism has on waste creation.
Here are four major concepts helping fashion become more sustainable and ethical.
There’s now an alternative to leather made from animals, it’s leather made from plants, fruit, and fungi. These alternatives offer a similar look and feel without harming animals or the environment. They include leather made from cactus, pineapples, and mushrooms. Further research is happening with coconut and apple leather. Meanwhile, material scientists from Modern Meadow have developed a leather made from lab-grown protein.
Similarly, materials company Bolt Threads has grown silk in a lab by replicating the way spiders spin silk.
Finally, Australian technology and textile recycling company BlockTexx recovers polyester and cellulose from textiles and clothing. The process turns waste into resources, producing material for new products suitable for use in textiles, packaging, and construction.
With substantial innovation in developing sustainable materials, the fashion industry will no doubt turn the corner. It may still take years; however, brands such as Zara integrating sustainable initiatives into their supply chain sets a standard for the entire industry to follow.
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