Fiber-to-fiber recycling tech company Circ has closed a $25 million round of funding backed by European online fashion giant Zalando, and global materials science company Avery Dennison. Korean manufacturer Youngone also joined the round.
The latest injection of cash follows a $30 million Series B round last July, which was joined by Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, American textile manufacturer Milliken & Company, and Spanish fast-fashion giant Inditex, parent company of Zara, among others.
“Transforming the fashion economy requires leadership from influential players in the textile industry, the financial community, as well as technology innovators,” said chief executive officer Peter Majeranowski.
“The Circ team, which includes not only our employees but also our investors and partners, encompasses a diverse group of retail, manufacturing and engineering leaders across the U.S., Europe and Asia. We share a common view that a clean future for the fashion industry is not only possible but also essential for humanity. With each funding round and expansion in our partner base, we become more capable of ending the costly and preventable cycle of garment waste.”
The latest round will continue to accelerate Circ’s engineering expansion as it scales up to industrial-level facilities and help the company deliver its first consumer products to market.
Majeranowski founded Circ in 2011, and has developed a hydrothermal process to break down textiles, recover cotton and polyester while maintaining its integrity and turn them into new materials.
Circ’s tech can also separate and recover poly-cotton blends, so far a major challenge for the industry. Although poly-cotton blends account for a huge chunk of the clothing made today, less than 1 percent is currently recycled.
“With the investment in Circ, we are contributing to an emerging infrastructure for circularity that will eventually help the fashion industry at large, to move away from a take-make-waste model,” said Zalando co-chief executive officer David Schneider. “We want to be a sustainable fashion platform with a net-positive impact for people and the planet, and we are excited about the potential of Circ to contribute to this vision.”
“The time for circular strategies and their enabling technologies is now. Using intelligent labeling in garments, Avery Dennison is working with Circ and other supply chain partners to provide a solution for the take-back and sorting of waste at scale,” said Michael Colarossi, Avery Dennison’s vice president of innovation and sustainability.
Circ’s fiber-to-fiber tech aims to reduce the need for virgin textiles in the supply chain. Getting those textiles back into circular manufacturing will take petroleum and tree-based products out of the fashion system, Circ says. According to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the textiles industry is estimated to account for more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions, the largest portion of which comes from raw materials.