Zara-owner signs €70m deal to buy recycled polyester material

Zara-owner Inditex has signed a three-year agreement to buy a portion of the annual production of cycora, a material made from post-industrial and post-consumer polyester waste.

The company said that the €70 million deal with Los Angeles-based material science company Ambercycle, which produces the material, would help to scale production of recycled polyester on an industrial scale.

The agreement will support the construction of Ambercycle’s first commercial-scale textile regeneration factory, with Inditex saying that the facility would make circular materials more widely available and accessible in the fashion supply chain.

Zara has in the past been accused of greenwashing after launching several of its sustainability initiatives, including in 2021 when it faced claims from the Changing Markets Foundation that the company’s use of recycled plastic bottles to make clothing was “damaging to the environment”.

At the time, a video released by the Foundation alongside plastic pollution campaigning organisation City to Sea said that the practice was environmentally destructive and allowed brands to greenwash their collections.

Inditex said that production of cycora at the new factory will begin in 2025 and will be incorporated into the company’s clothing ranges over the next three years.

As part of the partnership, Zara Athleticz is launching its first capsule collection in collaboration with Ambercycle, featuring technical pieces crafted with up to 50 per cent cycora content.

Inditex said it aims to have 100 per cent of its textile products made exclusively from materials with a lower environmental footprint by 2030. It added that it expects to have a quarter of these made from next generation materials that do not yet exist at the scale required.

"At Inditex we are committed to achieving circularity in the fashion industry,” said Javier Losada, Inditex’s chief sustainability officer. “We want to drive innovation to scale up new solutions, processes and materials to achieve textile to textile recycling. 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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