Sustainable materials

Cotton and Beyond

Right now, 93% of all the materials we use, is sustainably sourced.

Since we are a denim brand, about 80% of all of our raw materials consists of cotton, a crop that has historically been associated with high water and pesticide use. Today, 99% of that cotton is sustainably sourced. Our sustainable cotton is either organic or Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) sourced. BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future.

The remaining 20% of our raw materials includes 50% polyester and 50% other materials. Some examples of the non-cotton sustainable materials we use include Lycra®T400® EcoMade, ROICA™ V550, Lenzing® EcoVero Viscose, Lycra® 166L, recycled elastane, recycled polyester and TENCEL™ branded Lyocell fibers. We continue to investigate sustainable alternatives for the last 7% of our materials


Bar graph on usage of sustainable materials from 2011 to 2020 in our main fabrics
A Ranking -  Recycled or mostly recycled fibers
B Ranking - Organic, bio-based or compostable fibers
C Ranking - Better than conventional fibers


Although we are proud of the progress we made through the years, we have set ourselves some new ambitious sustainable materials goals for 2025 and 2030 to further increase the level of sustainability. For 2025 we are aiming for 75% of all of our materials to be recycled, organic, bio-based or compostable (indicated by mid and dark green in above graphic). In 2030 this will be 100%.

Sustainable Materials Ranking

To guide us in our sustainable materials journey we use a Sustainable Materials Ranking that lists all the fibers we use and indicates how sustainable these fibers are, according to existing industry standards. In order to rank the fibers, we first categorized all fibers we use, as well as the ones we specifically choose not to use. The categorization is fully determined by the environmental impact of each fiber. To guarantee the most objective and up-to-date ranking tool, the categorization of the fibers is completely based on existing industry tools and scoring mechanisms. We included the classification of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), the rigorous standards of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, CanopyStyle’s annual Hot Button Ranking and the Preferred Material Benchmark by Textile Exchange. The outcome is a living tool, which we will continue to update according to adapted standards and industry debates.

Scaling our fibers from least sustainable to most sustainable

Most sustainable

Least sustainable
Recycled or mostly recycled fibers Organic, bio-based or compostable fibers Better than conventional fibers Conventional fibers Do not use
Natural Natural Natural Natural Natural
  • Recycled cotton
  • Organic cotton
  • BCI cotton
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Conventional cotton
  • Unethical cotton
Synthetic Synthetic Synthetic Synthetic
  • Recycled polyester
  • Recycled nylon
  • ROICA™ EF (Eco Smart)
  • ROICA™ V550
  • Lycra® 166L
  • Lycra®T400® EcoMade
  • Virgin Polyester
  • Virgin Nylon (Polyamide)
  • Acrylic
  • Conventional Elastane (elastomuliester)
  • Lycra®

Manmade Manmade
Manmade
  • TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell
  • Lenzing® EcoVero
  • Tencel® Lyocell
  • Tencel® Modal

  • Conventional Lyocell
  • Conventional Viscose/Rayon

Animal

Animal Animal
  • Recycled Wool


  • Conventional Wool
  • Conventional Leather
  • Conventional Alpaca
  • Fur
  • Leather from real exotic animals
  • Down
  • Angora
  • Mohair


Materials definitions

Natural

Recycled cotton: Recycled cotton is produced from post-consumer or post-industrial waste material. The use of recycled cotton generates savings on raw materials, water, chemicals and energy and therefore is a great way to decrease environmental impact. The recycled cotton used for our products is certified in accordance with either the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) or the Global Recycling Standard (GRS).

Organic Cotton:  Organic cotton fibers are free of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Growing organic cotton helps to improve soil quality, prevents water contamination and conserves biodiversity. By choosing organic cotton, we can save up to 60% water comparing to conventional cotton. The organic cotton used for our products is certified in accordance with either the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) or the Organic Content Standard (OCS).

Better Cotton: G-Star RAW is a partner of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). That aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products. However, BCI Farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we ‘source’. BCI is a mass balance system and aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. BCI promotes good farming practices and helps farmers to make global cotton production better for the welfare of farming communities, the environment it grows in and the sector’s future. Via the GSRD Foundation and in cooperation with Solidaridad, G Star RAW has been supporting farmers since 2012 to make the switch to growing Better Cotton.

Hemp: Hemp is a natural fiber that generally does not require use of pesticides. Furthermore it uses less water and is much stronger than conventional cotton.

Linen: Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, which does not require much energy or water resources to produce.

Conventional Cotton: Many people think cotton is inherently good because it is "natural". It is a renewable resource, which is good. But in reality cotton can have an extremely harmful impact on people and the environment. This because conventional cotton cultivation uses a lot of water as well as toxic and polluting chemicals. Today, 99% of the cotton used in G-Star RAW’s products is sustainably sourced.

Unethical Cotton: With unethical cotton practices we mean cotton that is cultivated in circumstances without respect for human rights, any form of forced labor, a lack of healthy and safe working conditions for workers and no or limited environmental protection. G-Star RAW prohibits suppliers to source cotton from areas where ethical practices cannot be guaranteed.

Synthetic

Recycled Polyester: Recycled polyester is produced from post-consumer or post- industrial waste materials such as PET plastic bottles and apparel; material that would otherwise have been sent to landfill, or for incineration. It prevents the further extraction of a non-renewable resource. By giving discarded resources a new life we save raw materials, water, chemicals and energy. The recycled polyester used for our products is certified in accordance with either the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) or the Global Recycling Standard (GRS).

Recycled Nylon: Recycled Nylon has the same benefits as recycled polyester: It diverts waste from landfills and its production uses much fewer resources than virgin nylon (including water, energy and fossil fuel). The recycled nylon used for our products is certified in accordance with either the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) or the Global Recycling Standard (GRS).

Virgin polyester: Polyester is a manufactured synthetic fiber. It is a kind of plastic and is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Polyester generally has significant negative environmental impact during production, use, and disposal.

Virgin nylon (polyamide): Like polyester, nylon fiber is made from petroleum which has negative effects on the environment. Even though our use of nylon is limited, we sometimes need to use nylon for its strong and durable properties. The focus for the coming years is to use recycled nylon. 

Acrylic: Acrylic fiber is a synthetic fiber that closely resembles wool in its character. Acrylic fabric is made with plastic threads. Acrylic fabric is created from fossil fuels and is made in a way similar to the production of polyamide fabric (or nylon fabric) and polyester fabric.

ROICA™ EF: this is high quality, recycled stretch fiber from Japan made from 58% recycled pre-consumer waste. By giving discarded resources a new life, we save raw materials, water, chemicals and energy.

ROICA™ V550: this is a degradable stretch fiber from Japan, which holds a Gold Level Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. It’s featured in the world’s first Cradle to Cradle Certified® Gold Stretch Denim which G-Star RAW developed. 

LYCRA® 166L: this is a sustainable high performance stretch fiber which holds a Gold Level Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

LYCRA® T400® ECOMADE: this is a sustainable stretch fiber, partially made from recycled and renewable resources. It is designed to make garments last longer and hold their shape wear after wear.

Conventional elastane: this is an entirely synthetic fabric. It is a stretch material that is notable for its exceptional elasticity, strength and durability.

Manmade

TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell: this is a traceable fiber which is derived from cotton scraps and responsible wood sources through a closed-loop production process. This means that more than 99% of the solvent used to process the wood and cotton scrap is recovered and reused. This process also recycles water used in the production of the fiber.

Tencel™ Lyocell: TENCEL™ branded Lyocell fiber is derived from sustainable wood sources and harvested from certified and controlled sources using a closed-loop production process. It transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact.

Tencel™ Modal: TENCEL™ Modal is exclusively made in Austria from beech wood with the latest innovative environmental processes and with efficient use of natural resources and low emissions.

Lenzing ECOVERO™: it is a branded viscose fiber is derived from sustainable wood sources and certified with EU Ecolabel, meeting high environmental standards throughout its life cycle.

Conventional Viscose/Rayon: Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulosic fiber derived from wood pulp. Rayon is typically made of wood from eucalyptus, spruce, and pine trees, but can also be made from cotton or bamboo. As conventional Rayon or Viscose has a rather negative impact on the environment and the production of this fiber contributes to the deforestation of ancient and endangered forests, Sustainable alternatives G-Star RAW is using are Refibra™, Tencel™ Lyocell from Lenzing, Modal from Lenzing and Lenzing Ecovero™.

Conventional Lyocell: it is a form of Rayon, and it is composed primarily of cellulose derived from wood. There are several sustainable options for Lyocell that G-Star RAW is using more and more such as Refibra™, Tencel lyocell from Lenzing, Modal from Lenzing.

Animal

Recycled wool: Recycled wool is made of existing materials that are re-used in order to save resources.
By giving discarded resources a new life we save raw materials, water, chemicals and energy.

Conventional wool: Wool production can have significant negative impacts on the environment and animal welfare. G-Star RAW only accepts wool from sheeps that have not been mulesed and to guarantee the welfare of the sheep, we are focused on using either recycled wool or Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified wool.

Conventional leather: Leather is any fabric that is made from animal hides or skins. Today, G-Star RAW only accepts leather from cows, sheeps, buffalos, goats and pigs. We only use leather as by-product from the meat industry. We give preference to leather processed through facilities rated by the Leather Working group² (LWG) as Gold, Silver or Bronze.

Fur: Fur comes from wild animals and is the thick growth of hair that covers the skin of many kinds of animals. G-Star RAW prohibits the use of genuine fur.

Leather from real exotic animals: this includes all materials derived from animals as listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List (https://www.iucnredlist.org/). G-Star RAW prohibits the use leather from real exotic animals.

Down: down is the fine undercoat of birds under the feathers, and is often used as insulation in clothing. G-Star RAW wants to prevent the plucking of live geese or force-feeding techniques at any time. Therefore, we banned the use of down and feathers completely as of Fall 2020. Instead, we will use alternatives such as 3M Thinsulate or any other sustainable alternative in the future.

Angora: Angora is a type of wool coming from the Angora rabbit. G-Star RAW does not use Angora wool as the humane treatment of Angora rabbits cannot be assured.

Mohair: Mohair is a type of wool coming from Mohair goats. G-Star RAW does not use Mohair as the humane treatment of Mohair goats cannot be assured.

Animal welfare

Our Animal Welfare Policy describes our zero tolerance approach to any kind of ill treatment of animals associated with the manufacturing of our products. Therefore, suppliers must implement international and industry best practices for animal welfare on the farm, in transit, at the market or at a place of slaughter, based on “The Five Freedoms For Animal Welfare”, as defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in 2006.

Forests

Acknowledging that many materials we use may be connected with forests, we have joined forces with Canopy and the wider fashion industry to prioritize recycled and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified pulp products and avoid sourcing from ancient and endangered forests. This includes avoiding man-made cellulosic fabrics made from dissolving pulp (rayon, viscose, lyocell and modal).

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