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How Crystal Denim Aims to Close the Loop

Circularity was the impetus for major changes for Crystal Denim, the denim division within the Hong Kong-based clothing manufacturer Crystal International Group Limited.

The company’s new 2019 annual sustainability report describes some of Crystal’s biggest wins in responsible manufacturing. Among them is the company’s shift to using 100 percent Better Cotton Initiative-certified cotton and the introduction of recycled polyester Repreve in its denim production.

During a year when the company manufactured 57.6 million garments, with 88 percent of them being jeans, Crystal also produced the first fabrics from its Second Life project, which converts pre-consumer cut waste from industry peers and recyclers into new fabric for a closed-loop denim process.

This project was key in the development of The R Collective’s collaboration with Levi’s, the company stated, which included pieces that were resewed from upcycled Levi’s inventory and leftover samples.

Second Life fabrics, Crystal stated, will be certified with the Recycled Claim Standard, which provides full traceability to brands.

In an effort to produce less, the company established new digital tools for its concept-building process and the development of 3D virtual samples. In 2019, the proportion of virtual samples for product development as per customer requested and by Crystal’s own initiatives was significantly increased, the report stated.

The company is taking the same less-is-more approach to its finishing processes. In 2019, Crystal introduced 4ZERO, an initiative to embrace greener methods and to develop new techniques to produce jeans.

Part of 4ZERO includes shifting from manual work to laser to create worn and faded designs on jeans. The initiative also includes replacing potassium permanganate with eco-friendly chemicals as oxidizing agents in wet processing and replacing stone wash with an enzyme wash and advanced washing machines.

As a result, the company reported that it has reduced the water usage in its finishing process by 90 percent and slashed its chemical usage by 70 percent.