As Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified denim becomes more accessible, mills are challenging themselves to reach higher levels of circularity.
Rajby kicked off the year by introducing the first C2C Platinum certified denim called Beluga, a 100 percent organic cotton, non-indigo natural fabric made in an entirely closed loop process. Along with being 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable, Beluga is made using renewable energy sources, and in an organizational setup that has stellar CSR compliance records.
Though the premise was simple enough, according to Safdar Shah, Rajby senior manager of R&D—the mill wanted to eliminate “the bad” and add “all the good” to denim’s lifecycle—executing the project was not without a unique set of challenges. “The biggest ask that probably made this certificate the most difficult to achieve is to take care of issues that are beyond our control,” he said.
After achieving C2C’s Gold certificate in 2019, Rajby was set ready for the next step. For the Platinum certificate, however, the mill had to ensure the off-setting of carbon even at the level of cotton transportation—from field to ginning factories—and ensure not just chemicals were C2C certified, but also the individual component of a compound chemical would be duly verified. At the retail level, Rajby had to guarantee that garments made with the fabric would be sold by a retailer (in this case, C&A) with a recycling system in place to receive the garment at the end of its lifecycle.
“So, more than 90 percent of the time taken to get the platinum certificate was consumed to ensure active cycling mechanism with traceability,” Shah said.
Despite the challenges, Shah described Beluga as “just a milestone” in Rajby’s journey toward circularity. The company, he said, strongly believes in C2C because the protocol is proven to make a sustainable impact.
“We have been following other sustainability approaches, but the level of transparency and traceability that we have seen in C2C is something that we believe will actually make the real difference,” he said. “It is not just being witnessed in documents but it actually makes sure that real things are happening at the real grounds from start to end.”
The company plans to carve out more C2C innovations, including certified indigo denim once there are sources that meet the qualifications. “Rajby’s R&D will always be digging out the next level possibilities and for this specific aspect, color denim will be our first priority,” he said. “We did not stop our efforts during the pandemic days and, of course, we will be even more vibrant in normal circumstance.”