The difference between recycled and recyclable and why it matters

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This AW21, we’re launching our fully circular 73 Zero insulated jacket. That means it’s both recycled and 100% recyclable. You’ll see a lot of recycled clothing on the market, but not much of that is recyclable. So what’s the difference?

Why buy recycled?

A recycled garment has been made from materials that have been used before. There are two main reasons to buy recycled.

Firstly, it stops new or virgin materials being manufactured. Think of all the energy and work that goes into making a fabric. The crop needs to be grown, harvested, turned into a fibre and then into a fabric. The crops need water (growing the cotton for single pair of conventional jeans needs about 7,000 litres of water). The processes need chemicals. All this creates a chemical, water and carbon footprint.

Using recycled materials eliminates that footprint.

The second reason is that it delays the material going to landfill. That matters because an astonishing 73% of all clothing ends up in landfill or incinerated, both producing significant CO2 emissions.

Is recycled enough?

Wearing recycled clothing is good for both the reasons mentioned above. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough because it only delays landfill. It doesn’t prevent it. You’ll get a few years wear out of your recycled clothing, but that material will still end up as waste.

It’s still better than using virgin materials. But it’s only better if you’re actually saving materials that were destined for landfill. Takes plastic bottles – they can be recycled again and again into other bottles. If those bottles are used for clothing that then ends up in landfill, then we’ve effectively diverted a recyclable material into waste.

If we want clothing that’s good for the planet we need to think not just about where the materials we use come from but where they end up.

We need to think about recyclable clothing

If your clothing is recyclable, then it never needs to go to landfill. Our 73 Zero Jackets are made from recycled polyester but they’re also 100% recyclable. We’ve worked with recycling processor Project Plan B to ensure that at the end of one of our jacket’s life, it can be turned back into polyester pellets and made into another jacket (or in fact, another anything polyester).

When clothing is both recycled and recyclable – or circular – we start to see how the fashion industry could drastically cut its footprint. At the moment our 73 Zero jacket is only recyclable because we worked hand in hand with a recycling processor to ensure it was. We’re working out what materials we need to work with to make our clothing recyclable. Read about how we made our 73 Zero insulated jacket. We’re then sourcing the right materials in a recycled form. Because f we’re going to cut our footprint, we need to think about the end of our clothing’s life before we start making it.