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Zara Launches ‘First of Its Kind’ Recycled Poly-Cotton Capsule with Circ

Zara has released its first collection developed with recycled poly-cotton textile waste.

The fast fashion retailer teamed with textile recycling firm Circ to release a line of women’s apparel made with recycled polyester and cotton fibers on Monday, addressing one of the industry’s biggest recycling challenges: blended textiles.

Circ’s hydrothermal process liquefies the polyester, before heat and pressure separate the liquid polymer from the solid cotton to reclaim the cellulosic and synthetic materials. The recycled cotton is turned into fluffy flakes before becoming a pulp that can be subbed in for wood pulp, which makes up traditional lyocell. Meanwhile, the polyester content can be pelletized and extruded into new fibers.

The Circ x Zara collection features lyocell garments made with 50 percent recycled poly-cotton waste, and polyester garments made with 43 percent recycled  poly-cotton waste. The three styles available Monday including tie-front shorts, a front-knotted blouse and wide-leg trousers that retail for $69.90.

Circ x Zara shorts and halter.
Circ x Zara shorts and halter. Courtesy of Zara

Circ CEO Peter Majeranowski said the partnership “signals a seismic shift in how the fashion industry and consumers view what is possible in sustainability.”

“This is the first-time recycled polyester and lyocell clothing manufactured from poly-cotton textile waste is in the hands of consumers, and we are taking important steps toward making circularity the new standard,” he added. Majeranowski said the partners envision “a new future in which the garments hanging in our closets are made from recycled materials that can then be recycled over and over again.”

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The exploratory line “demonstrates that innovation in new fibers and collaboration with specialized experts are two key pillars in advancing the circularity of the textile industry,” Inditex chief sustainability officer Javier Losada added, noting how Circ’s technology “opens the door to effectively separate and recycle any blend of polyester and cotton—which is one of the most common textile blends in clothing.”

Items in the collection retail for $69.50.
Items in the collection retail for $69.50. Courtesy

The line follows the Zara parent’s investment in Virginia-based Circ last year. Inditex took part in a $30 million Series B funding round alongside  Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures and South Carolina textile manufacturer Milliken & Co. The investment was the fashion firm’s first within its Sustainability Sustainability Innovation Hub (SIH), which aims to bolster technological innovation to promote product circularity.

In recent seasons, Zara’s SIH has also inked partnerships with other circularity-focused textile recyclers. Last spring, it made a three-year commitment to purchase 30 percent of Infinited Fiber Company’s future volume of Infinna, a regenerated fiber made from post-consumer textile waste. The deal is valued at over $104 million.

It also worked with Renewcell on a range of maxi dresses, open-weave sweaters and ribbed sets made from the textile recycling group’s recycled-textile-generated material, Circulose, last summer. The biodegradable raw material is used to create viscose and lyocell and replace virgin inputs.

The line is made up of trans-seasonal staples.
The line is made up of trans-seasonal staples. Courtesy of Zara

December saw the company work with textile innovator Evrnu on a capsule collection made with 100-percent cotton waste. Evrnu’s NuCycl Lyocell fiber technology was used to create collared shirts and wide-leg trousers that can be disassembled and dissolved down to their molecular state, and reengineered multiple times into new garments through repolymerization.