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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Renewcell’s filing for bankruptcy a blow to sustainability

In a major blow to the sustainability efforts the Swedish company Renewcell is filing for bankruptcy. The company coined a process for the chemical recycling of clothing waste, operating a facility in Sundsvall to make the Circulose pulp.

Despite backing from brands such as H&M, Ganni, PVH and Inditex, the wider industry perhaps wasn’t willing to invest for fear of financial losses, suggested Tricia Carey, the company’s chief commercial officer, on LinkedIn. She said: “It is far more revealing of brands and manufacturers than it is of innovators; far more telling about the disparity between fashion’s words and promises versus its actions and intentions, than about the capabilities of circular producers like Renewcell.”

Dutch sustainability hub Fashion for Good said the news was “not only a failure for Renewcell, but a collective failure driven by the lack of urgency and misalignment in a complex system across brands, supply chain partners and investors”. It added that it is also an opportunity for actors to step up to bring Renewcell’s operations back online. “This serves as a critical wake-up call,” it said.

Denim players described it as “painful news” and its employees as “heroes”. What they defined is part of the future. It did not work this time but hope it will in the future. Denim educator Mohsin Sajid said on LinkedIn: “What a deep shame… feeling for friend Tricia Carey and her team for hard work this past year. Gutted as we did great work for them and were about to design a special collab collection for Kingpins.”

Forbes journalist Brooke Roberts-Islam suggested textile recycling systems might work better, financially, if they were located close to Asian mills, with access to pre-consumer waste with a high cotton content. Last week, Renewcell announced its Circulose Supplier Network had 151 members, including yarn spinners, garment manufacturers and denim mills.

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