Inditex, the parent company of fast fashion giant Zara, has made another strategic move to bolster its sustainability efforts. On October 25, the company announced it entered into a deal with the US startup Ambercycle to purchase recycled polyester.
This marks a significant shift in the world of fast fashion as consumers and regulators increasingly demand waste reduction and the use of sustainable materials. Inditex, for example, the world’s biggest clothing retailer, has pledged to have “100% of its textile products to be made exclusively from materials with a smaller environmental footprint by 2030.”
Inditex and Ambercycle recycled polyester deal
As part of the deal, Inditex will invest over 70 million euros (approximately $74 million) to secure Ambercycle’s recycled polyester called cycora®, made from textile waste. A byproduct of the petroleum industry, polyester is durable and dries quickly, which makes it uniquely suitable for sportswear.
In a statement announcing the partnerships, Inditex writes that it will buy a “significant portion of the annual production of cycora® — an innovative material made from post-industrial and post-consumer polyester waste” — over a three-year period.
This will begin in 2025, when the startup’s first commercial-scale textile recycling factory is scheduled to open. As Inditex explains, “[t]his purchase commitment will be key to support the construction of Ambercycle’s first commercial-scale textile regeneration factory.”
“We want to drive innovation to scale-up new solutions, processes and materials to achieve textile-to-textile recycling,” said Javier Losada, chief sustainability officer at Inditex. “Ambercycle’s groundbreaking molecular regeneration technology transforms end-of-life textiles into new materials, effectively reducing waste and emissions in the production cycle.”
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Ambercycle’s goal, the startup’s CEO Shay Sethi says, is to “enable circularity by replacing virgin polyester with textile-to-textile regenerated cycora®.”
“Our partnership with Inditex represents a monumental leap towards realizing circularity at scale in the fashion industry,” Sethi adds.
Inditex and textile recycling
Inditex has recently made other similar investments into textile recycling startups.
Last year, the clothing retailer entered a three-year, 100 million euro ($104 million) deal with Finland’s Infinited Fiber to acquire 30% of the company’s recycled fiber. It also invested in Circ, an American company specializing in textile-to-textile recycling.
Moreover, Inditex has collaborated with industry rivals such as H&M and Mango to form a clothing waste management association in Spain This initiative comes as the fashion industry prepares for impending EU legislation, scheduled to take effect from January 2025, which will require member states to separately collect textile waste.
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