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Inditex Teams Up With Lenzing to Close the Loop

Another fast-fashion giant has entered the textile recycling fray.

Zara’s parent company, Inditex, announced its latest “Environmental Strategy Plan” Tuesday, committing to the circular economy model in all phases of the product cycle.

Starting in Madrid in September, Zara will offer shoppers free at-home collection of used clothing when delivering online orders. The pilot, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Spanish charity Cáritas and transportation firm Seur, will eventually roll out all over Spain.

In addition, Inditex and Cáritas will install between 1,500 and 2,000 garment collection containers in the country’s main cities. “The charity will sort the clothing to further the garment’s life through its distribution channels or allow for recycling for the development of new textile raw materials,” a statement said, noting that Inditex will donate 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) over two years to modernize Cáritas’ garment sorting and treatment plants.

At the same time, the company will put garment collection containers throughout its store network, with the goal of having one in each of its brick-and-mortar stores in Spain by September.

Inditex also inked an exclusive agreement with Austrian fiber supplier Lenzing for the production of “premium textile raw materials” made from fabric waste generated by Inditex. To get the ball rolling on this project, Inditex will provide Lenzing with roughly 500 tons of textile waste, with the aim of raising this to around 3,000 tons within a few years. This will enable the Austrian company to produce around 48 million garments.

Closing the loop in textiles is clearly a priority for Inditex—the company said it will support research into technology that will turn recycled garments into new textile fibers, together with MIT and select Spanish universities.

Swedish retailer H&M is also moving toward a 100 percent circular business model, collecting more than 12,000 tons of unwanted garments in its stores in 2015 alone. Last year, it made more than one million products containing at least 20 percent recycled material from collected garments.