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Artistic Denim Mills Partners with Recover™ to Boost Denim Circularity

Already at the forefront of sustainable production with eco-friendly raw materials and processes, Pakistan-based Artistic Denim Mills is doubling down on recycling as a major step toward true circularity.

In this exclusive Q&A, CEO Faisal Ahmed explains why ADM, which is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s jeans re-design project and Cradle to Cradle certification to make products that are safe, circular and made responsibly, teamed up with Recover™ in its dedication to circularity.

Sourcing Journal: ADM recently signed an exclusive global strategic partnership with Recover Textile Systems, S.L. to use the Spanish material sciences company’s certified and traceable recycled cotton in its collections. Can you explain the thinking behind this investment?

Faisal Ahmed: The motivation behind this strategic tie with Recover™ is to adhere toward the commitment to drive circularity and traceability in the denim sector. As a result of the multi-year partnership, ADM will be able to scale its use of recycled cotton from post-consumer denim, while providing clients with the level of transparency that responsible businesses are increasingly looking for.

The new facility ADM installed in Pakistan is able to produce 60,000 kg of recycled fiber per day, enough to produce over 200,000 kg yarn a day for multiple product categories including denim, knits, fleece, socks etc. It’s our leadership commitment towards achieving fashion circularity in the textile industry.

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A new breed of denim makers is utilizing recycled yarn, utilizing a technology developed by Recover™, a material sciences firm that creates new yarn from post-consumer waste. 

How do you define circularity? What are some common industry misconceptions of this term?

F.A.:  A lot of people in the apparel and textiles industries use the word “circularity” interchangeably with “sustainability” and even “recycling”, but that’s not the case. Circularity takes things much further. Compared to a more linear fashion model, circular fashion keeps items in the world for longer than one use, and in circulation for as long as possible before it is discarded or repurposed.

The second major misconception is recycling plastic into usable materials is a good way to help the environment. True, but for the fashion and textile industry, this means developing business models that prolong the life of clothing, producing clothes from sustainable and renewable materials, and making sure clothes can be reused easily and safely after their use.

What have been the biggest challenges you have crossed in trying to improve the circularity of your products? What has been holding circularity back?

F.A.: Over the years, we have dedicated ourselves to creating an optimized facility for water, energy and dye use, plus creating a sustainable vertical supply chain. The biggest challenge has been to effectively implement closed-loop solutions to reach “zero waste” production while maintaining the quality and performance of our textiles.

A pipeline of circular opportunities can only be identified and optimized by tapping into the levers of technology, policy and investment, and that is in short supply.

Circularity needs to be an industry-wide goal. How can forward-thinking companies convince their supply chain partners that the topic needs to be addressed?

F.A.: A more variable supply will require more flexible manufacturing processes in the textile sector to achieve circularity. To achieve this, lean supply chain functions are essential to embrace a sustainable stance. Companies must adopt best supply chain practices and convince all supply chain partners to enable high-level competence to achieve a desired level of circularity.

To learn more about Artistic Denim Mills, click here.