Welcome to THE
AlliANCE for Responsible Denim
The Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD) was a research project from the Collaborative Innovation & Entrepreneurship professorship at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. ARD was active from 2016 to 2018 and aimed to bring denim brands and suppliers together in a precompetitive setting to advance sustainable production of denim products. Even though ARD is inactive, the resources and information are still available on this site.
The professorship continues to research multi-stakeholder collaborations and innovation in the context of sustainable and responsible production. You can find more information about our research here.
Thank you for your interest in the Alliance for Responsible Denim. Feel free to contact us for more information.
Together, creating a cleaner & smarter denim industry.
With our purpose to make our industry cleaner & smarter, we, members of the Alliance for Responsible Denim, are strongly aligned in our desire to produce denim in a sustainable way. We aim to collaborate together to achieve this goal.
The denim industry cannot continue along its current path. Companies face complicated sustainability issues larger than they can address individually. By combining resources and efforts we can be more effective in addressing them.
The Alliance for Responsible Denim (ARD) is an initiative from Made-By, Circle Economy and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.
ARD brings denim brands together to collectively take steps towards improving the ecological sustainability impact of denim production.
These first steps include establishing measurements, benchmarks and standards for resource use (e.g. chemicals, water, energy) and recycled denim. Listen to a UN broadcast highlighting our work.
For more information, please read our charter
Denim Brands and Suppliers
Our consortium consists of key stakeholders and experts from the denim industry. Although based in Amsterdam, ARD represents international denim brands and suppliers.
Wet Processing Benchmark
This project focuses on improving the environmental impact of denim finishing. Brands are guided by laundry experts, from both the chemical and the technology side, in diagnosing their conventional washes. Gaining valuable advice & knowledge to lower the EIM scores on their Never-Out-of-Stock styles.
Post-Consumer Recycled Denim Standard
Led by Circle Economy, this working group focuses on developing a preferred industry buying standard, defining a business model and road map for the introduction and scaling up of Post-Consumer-Recycled-Denim (PCRD) production. Our hope is that the establishment of a preferred buying standard can increase volume of PCRD and further its adoption in the industry.
WASH RECIPE QUESTIONNAIRE
Created by Made-By, this questionnaire allows for the collection of wash recipe specifications in order to find areas of improvement -either through chemical and/or machinery adoption & water reduction. Please email if you would like to receive our interactive Excel version to send to suppliers.
POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED DENIM
PCRD FABRIC OVERVIEW
In our effort to adopt more post-consumer recycled denim into the collections of our members, the Alliance for Responsible Denim is continually growing our PCRD database and library in collaboration with our partner mills. An overview of fabrics can be downloaded here.
The Alliance for Responsible Denim has at its core, the goal to create a smarter and cleaner denim industry. In our efforts to accomplish this, we see it as being essential to share our insights & tools with all relevant industry stakeholders. Our resources are open-source and can be downloaded.. If there are any questions regarding their usage, feel free to contact us at email@example.com. Resources will be continually added and developed.
Circle Economy is a social enterprise with the mission to empower a global community of businesses, cities and governments to accelerate the transition to the circular economy through practical and scalable insights and solutions, that address humanity’s greatest challenges. The mission for the Circle Textiles Programme is to ‘close the loop’ for textiles, and create a zero waste industry whereby textile products, fabrics, and fibers are continually cycled through connected loops, across industries, in a transparent and economical way. Together with an ecosystem of brands, collectors, sorters and recyclers, Circle Economy produces the data, tools and pilot projects that are critically needed to achieve a circular textiles industry.
Made-By is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to make sustainable fashion common practice. The team works internationally with brands, retailers and suppliers to improve environmental and social conditions within the apparel value chain. MADE-BY is also well known for its publicly available benchmarks on fibers and wet processing.
The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is a higher education institution. The research center, Centre for Applied Research in Economics and Management (CAREM) received a research grant from the Dutch government to engage in research with small and medium sized businesses. The research goal is to better understand and provide best practices for the process of collaborating with competitors to improve sustainability impact.
denim supply chain
There are three major ecological issues facing the denim industry: water, energy and chemicals. The use of these resources is concentrated at four stages of the production process: cotton cultivation, dyeing, fabric finishing and garment finishing. ARD focuses on reducing resource use in these four stages.
Cotton Cultivation - Post-Consumer-Recycled Denim
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that it takes 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton and that current production methods are unsustainable. By incorporating post-consumer-recycled denim (PCRD), which is regenerated fibres from worn, rejected or discarded garments, we can reduce the need for new/virgin cotton, thus saving billions of gallons of water. Additionally discarded garments are used as a resource for new fabric production, which reduces waste that ends up in landfills or combustion. The technology and supply chain infrastructure to create and support post-consumer recycled denim is evolving but has not yet been adopted due to economies of scale in current production practices.
Dyeing, Fabric- & Garment Finishing -
Lowering the Environmental Impact of Wet Processing
The wet processing of denim production occurs in the stages of dyeing, fabric finishing and garment finishing and consists of several different techniques and technologies that consume varying levels of water, energy and chemicals. Currently it is difficult to determine what is sustainable or unsustainable in denim finishing. Alternative technologies to traditional practices may reduce water use but increase energy use. Defining measurements and benchmarks of finishing techniques is an important first step to improving the sustainability impact of a denim garment.
ARD has chosen to concentrate its collective effort in areas where maximum sustainability impact can be achieved – improving the ecological impact of processes in the above four stages. This excludes other aspects of denim production such as sewing threads, buttons, zippers and leather patches. It also means that reducing the carbon footprint of transportation and social compliance are excluded from the scope. However, individual members address these and other sustainability concerns in their own corporate social responsibility policies.