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Mud Jeans Shares Supply Chain Partners Powering Circular Journey

Mud Jeans achieved its “Road to 100” goal with June’s debut of the world’s first jean made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled cotton. The circular garment, however, is just one of several achievements the Dutch brand recounts in its 2021 Sustainability Report. 

By the numbers, Mud sold almost 50,000 pairs of jeans in 2021 and turned 11,500 old jeans into new ones. It also created a 40 percent recycled denim couch cover with Ikea, bringing its circular ethos into the home goods category, and updated its chemical policy based on ZDHC guidelines. 

These sustainable steps helped the brand nab B Corp’s “Best for the World” title for earning the certification group’s highest environmental category score worldwide. 

The report pulls back the curtain on Mud’s supply chain and production. 

Last year 89 percent of the new denim fabrics Mud used came from Spain’s Tejidos Royo, followed by Bossa, with 10 percent. Just 1 percent was made from “unwanted and forgotten” deadstock textiles.

The fabrics use OCS certified organic cotton and GRS certified recycled cotton ensuring that jeans can easily be recycled and reincorporated into production. Mud said 97 percent of its jeans contain recycled content—32 percent of which are made with 40 percent post-consumer cotton. 

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“In 2021 our total production consisted of 70 percent organic cotton and 28 percent recycled cotton. We had some styles with a small amount of Tencel, but this was less than 1 percent. The final 1 percent is the use of elastane to make some of our jeans stretchy,” it said. 

Fabrics travel to Tunisia’s Yousstex International where they are transformed into jeans. Mud reported that Yousstex completed an audit with the Social Labour Convergence Program (SLCP) in 2020. The factory also went through a full IWAY audit covering environmental, social and working conditions and recently received its GOTS certification.

In 2021, Mud published a brand-new LCA in which it updated all impact calculations of its products and found production impact improvements from “cradle to gate.” Between 2020 and 2021, it reduced its average water impact by 17.6 percent and conserved 311 million liters of water versus the industry standard. 

Tejidos Royo’s Dry Indigo technology plays a significant role in the brand’s water conservation, as well as Yousstex’s reverse osmosis process that recycles 95 percent of water.

The company reduced its average CO2 impact by 3.2 percent from 2020 to 2021, falling just short of its goal of 5 percent. 

The award-winning brand is sharing its knowledge. In 2021, Mud created a free sustainable fashion course for students and young professionals who want to learn more about the topic. The course was created together with industry experts and covers five topics: fast fashion, the work of Mud Jeans, partnerships, transparency, and responsible business. Students earn a certificate after passing a quiz on each topic. 

Monthly online Q&As with CEO Bert van Son and CSR officer Lea Landsberg, and an “edutainment” podcast on circularity continue the conversation. 

The brand’s circular journey is ongoing. Along with introducing its 100 percent post-consumer recycled cotton jean this year, Mud kickstarted a repair pilot project and increased material diversity by adding hemp to its jeans. It also added traceability QR codes to garments. 

Goals for 2023 include making 5 percent of its collection from 100 percent recycled post-consumer denim, pivoting to 100 percent cellulosic sewing thread and further reducing waste by finding solutions for unwanted pieces.