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Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Jul 26, 2022
Reading time
3 minutes
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Diesel joins denim circularity project in Tunisia

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Jul 26, 2022

Worn by people all over the world, jeans are one of the most international of garments. The global denim market, according to a study by Allied Market Research, was estimated at over $56 billion in 2020, when the pandemic broke out, and could generate sales in excess of $88 billion in 2030.


Diesel’s goal is to recover fabric offcuts to produce new raw material - Diesel


Every year, more than 2.3 billion pairs of jeans are reportedly sold worldwide. Of these, only a minuscule volume is produced in France and Italy. The vast majority of jeans sold in Europe are produced in Asia, but Turkey and Tunisia too are major sourcing countries. The denim industry is heavily criticised for its severe environmental impact due to water consumption, workers' working conditions, washing techniques and the extensive use of chemicals, but it is trying its hardest to adopt more sustainable practices.

Fashion labels and retailers are engaged in multiple green initiatives, from using ozone washes for their products, to adopting manufacturing processes that cut the energy consumption needed to make jeans, to using organic and recycled cotton. And while manufacturers have developed more eco-friendly products that are being introduced by European mid- and high-end labels, the industry's collective approach to sustainability still needs to improve. This is precisely the objective of the projects driven by the Switchmed programme run by Unido, the United Nations’ industrial development organisation. Besides stimulating the development of more sustainable products, these projects aim to connect fashion buyers with manufacturers from Mediterranean basin countries. Unido, citing a study by Reverse Resources, warned that “more than 25% of raw materials - and sometimes up to 47% - are discarded in fabric and garment factories.”

In 2020, SwitchMed, a beneficiary of EU funding, helped set up a joint project involving Swedish label Nudie Jeans and its Tunisian producers. Finished products that did not meet Nudie Jeans's technical specifications, rather than being discarded, were destined for recycling. The fabric recovered from some 8,000 pairs of “dormant” jeans, mixed with virgin material, made it possible to generate 20,000 metres of fabric used for manufacturing new jeans, according to a press release. Additionally, the intention was to set up a recycling and re-manufacturing programme in Tunisia, working with local designers.

Now it is Diesel’s turn to link up with Switchmed, again in Tunisia. The Italian denim giant, one of the crown jewels of Renzo Rosso’s OTB group, has officially announced its involvement in a pilot project for the recycling of cotton used in denim production, during a conference with Unido in Monastir, Tunisia.

The project’s goal is to consider fabric offcuts as a resource from which to generate new raw material. To do this, the project will aim to raise awareness within all production partners and their staff.

“This project will be developed during the second half of 2022 and until 2023. Diesel and its Tunisian partners will promote a virtuous circle for scraps derived from fabric cutting operations,” said OTB in a press release. “The objectives are to strengthen production waste management practices, to improve the differentiation of various types of waste, and to start a pilot process for the mechanical recycling of fabric offcuts that consist largely or entirely of cotton. Quality offcuts will be used to make new garments, while other scraps will be available to other end-users,” added OTB.

According to the press release by Unido and Diesel, the textile industry in Tunisia generates more than 30,000 tons of fabric waste each year, of which 55% are offcuts. In addition to upgrading waste material and reducing the use of virgin fabrics, developing a recycling chain in producer countries is also an opportunity to stem the increase in waste volume and its impact on the local environment, notably cutting down on chemicals that are released into the environment when the waste in question is not treated appropriately.

“We need to start producing with what we already have, recovering existing materials and implementing a circular approach,” said Andrea Rosso, Diesel’s sustainability ambassador. “At Diesel, we believe that there is great value in collaborating with like-minded partners and suppliers to reduce the dependency on virgin resources, recognising that waste should instead be treated as a valuable raw material. Our collaboration with Unido and with Diesel’s Tunisian suppliers constitutes a milestone within our ‘For Responsible Living’ strategy and our commitments towards more responsible consumption and circularity,” he added.

Another pilot project, focused on recycling knitted materials, was also unveiled with Tunisian company Bébé Chbil.










 

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