Read the full story from Bloomberg.
In a factory the size of an airport terminal, laser cutters zip across long sheets of cotton, slicing out sleeves for Zara jackets. Until last year, the scraps that spill out into wire baskets were repurposed into stuffing for furniture or hauled off to a landfill near the plant in the northern Spanish town of Arteixo. Now they’re chemically reduced to cellulose, which is mixed with wood fibers and spun into a textile called Refibra that’s used in more than a dozen items such as T-shirts, trousers, and tops.
The initiative by Inditex SA, the company that owns Zara and seven other brands, highlights a shift in an industry known for churning out supercheap stuff that fills closets for just a few months before being tossed into the used-clothing bin. Gap Inc. promises that by 2021 it will take cotton only from organic farms or other producers it deems sustainable. Japan’s Fast Retailing Co., owner of Uniqlo Co., is experimenting with lasers to create distressed jeans using less water and chemicals. And Swedish retail giant Hennes & Mauritz AB is funding startups developing recycling technologies and fabrics made from unconventional materials such as mushroom roots.