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Why the Denim Deal Needs More Signatories

Most Denim Deal brand and retailer signatories are on track to achieve a key goal in 2023: making denim garments with a minimum of 5 percent post-consumer recycled cotton (PCR). Reaching the circularity initiative’s total goal of using 20 percent PCR cotton in 3 million pairs of jeans by 2023 is more complicated,  however.

“To achieve such [an] amount during 2021-2023 would imply that nearly all jeans of the participating brands should contain 20 percent PCR,” according to a new report. “With the current number of brands this target will not be reached. It would take more brands and retailers in the Netherlands to join the Denim Deal.”

The Denim Deal, officially known as the Dutch C-233 Green Deal on Circular Denim, is laying the groundwork for its mission to close the loop and promote the use of high-grade post-consumer recycled cotton (PCR) by establishing measurements to monitor progress. Using data from seven of its 38 signatories, including recyclers, producers, brands, retailers and public authorities, the group published a report that will serve as a baseline for achieving the Denim Deal’s goals.

Established in October 2020 in Amsterdam with 28 parties, the Denim Deal signatories committed themselves to the joint approach of working as quickly as possible toward a new industry standard at 5 percent PCR cotton used in the production of all denim garments. A public-private initiative, the Denim Deal was established by the Dutch Government, following the EU Green Deal and Circular Action Plan.

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With December 2023 as the common target, brand and retailer signatories aim to achieve a minimum of 5 percent PCR content in their own denim collections; set and achieve higher goals for PCR content; and commit to “individual ambitions” designed to meet the joint goal of using 20 percent PCR cotton in 3 million pairs of jeans.

Signatories include local companies like PVH Europe, Scotch & Soda and Kings of Indigo, as well as Calik Denim, Ereks and Recover from the supply chain.

The baseline measurement results for 2020 show that from the volume that seven participants delivered to the Dutch market, 8 percent (or 105,033) contained at least 5 percent PCR cotton. This is a relatively small amount, however, compared to the 1.3 million jeans they delivered.

During the same period, 12 percent of the volume of denim garments produced by the participants worldwide contained at least 5 percent PCR cotton.

Six of the seven brands and retailers have set their own ambitious goals for PCR content in garments, with amounts varying from 10-20 percent, 80-90 percent to 100 percent by the end of 2023, and companies are acting on the goals. Results of the baseline measurement show that 13 percent of participants’ jeans volume contained at least 20 percent PCR cotton.