Inditex to buy recycled polyester from US start-up Ambercycle
Textile-to-textile polyester recycling is in its infancy, and will take time to reach the scale required by global fashion brands
Madrid/London — Zara owner Inditex, the world’s biggest clothing retailer, has agreed to buy recycled polyester from US start-up Ambercycle, the companies said on Wednesday.
As fast-fashion retailers face pressure to reduce waste and use recycled fabrics, Inditex is spending more than €70m to secure supply of Ambercycle’s recycled polyester made from textile waste.
Polyester, a product of the petroleum industry, is widely used in sportswear as it is quick-drying and durable.
Under the offtake deal, Inditex will buy a “significant” portion of Ambercycle’s production of recycled polyester, which is sold under the brand cycora, over three years. The clothing retailer aims for 25% of its fibres to come from “next-generation” materials by 2030.
The Inditex investment will help Los Angeles-based Ambercycle fund its first commercial-scale textile recycling factory. Production of cycora at the plant is expected to begin in about 2025, and the material will be used in Inditex products over the following three years.
Zara Athleticz, a sub-brand of sportswear for men, launched a capsule collection on Wednesday of “technical pieces” containing up to 50% cycora. Inditex said the collection would be available from Zara.com.
Some apparel brands seeking to reduce their reliance on virgin polyester have switched to recycled polyester derived from plastic bottles, but that practice has come under criticism as it has created more demand for used plastic bottles, pushing up prices.
Textile-to-textile polyester recycling is in its infancy, though, and will take time to reach the scale required by global fashion brands.
“We want to drive innovation to scale-up new solutions, processes and materials to achieve textile-to-textile recycling,” Inditex's chief sustainability officer Javier Losada said in a statement.
The Ambercycle deal marks the latest in a series of investments made by Inditex into textile recycling start-ups.
In 2022, it signed a €100m three-year deal to buy 30% of the recycled fibre produced by Finland’s Infinited Fiber Co, and also invested in Circ, another US firm focused on textile-to-textile recycling.
In Spain, Inditex has joined forces with rivals including H&M and Mango in an association to manage clothing waste, as the industry prepares for EU legislation requiring member states to separately collect textile waste from January 2025.
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