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Inditex Invests in US Polyester Recycling Start-Up

Published: October 25, 2023
Author: TANVI_MUNJAL

Zara’s parent company, Inditex, which is recognized as the largest clothing retailer globally, has recently agreed to invest in and purchase recycled polyester from a U.S. startup known as Ambercycle.

This move is in response to the growing pressure faced by fast-fashion retailers to reduce waste and incorporate recycled fabrics into their products. Inditex has committed to investing a significant sum of 70 million euros in Ambercycle, whose primary focus is on producing recycled polyester from textile waste.

Polyester, a byproduct of the petroleum industry, is extensively used in sportswear due to its quick-drying and durable properties. Through this deal, Inditex will procure a substantial portion of Ambercycle’s recycled polyester production, marketed under the brand Cycora, over a three-year period. Although Inditex has confirmed the agreement with Ambercycle, specific details of the partnership were not disclosed. However, Inditex has set a target to have 25% of its fibres sourced from “next-generation” materials by 2030.

This investment by Inditex not only brings financial support to Ambercycle but also assists in financing the establishment of their first commercial-scale textile recycling factory in Los Angeles, California. It is projected that production of cycora at this facility will commence around 2025, with Inditex incorporating the material into their products over the subsequent three years. Notably, Zara’s sub-brand, Zara Athleticz, will be launching a capsule collection this week featuring “technical pieces” composed of up to 50% cycora.

While some apparel brands have turned to recycled polyester made from plastic bottles as a means of reducing their reliance on virgin polyester, this practice has received criticism due to its impact on the demand for used plastic bottles, resulting in increased prices. In contrast, textile-to-textile polyester recycling, though still in its early stages, shows promise as a sustainable solution for global fashion brands.

Inditex’s investment in Ambercycle is the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at promoting textile recycling, having previously signed deals with Finland’s Infinite Fiber Company and invested in Circ, a U.S. firm specializing in textile-to-textile recycling.

On a national level, Inditex has joined forces with other industry players such as H&M and Mango in a collaborative association to manage clothing waste in Spain. This strategic collaboration has been spurred by the impending legislation set forth by the European Union, which mandates member states to collect textile waste separately by January 2025. As the industry prepares for these regulatory changes, Inditex continues to make significant strides in sustainable practices through its partnerships and investments in textile recycling start-ups.

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