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Hong Kong facility offers solution for blended textile recycling

Just over a year after announcing the development of a new hydrothermal process to separate and recycle cotton and polyester blends, project partners H&M Foundation and The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) have opened a facility in Hong Kong to put the technology into practice. 

The facility is located in Hong Kong’s Tai Po industrial estate. It is owned by local textile company Novetex, a specialist in yarn spinning. 

The partners have said its purpose is to allow fashion brands and global stakeholders to see, test and implement this technology within their own operations. HKRITA plans to license the technology to make it available to all, allowing it to have a bigger impact on the global fashion industry. 

“This is a significant step towards a new fashion industry that operates within the planetary boundaries,” said Erik Bang, innovation lead of H&M Foundation. “As we scale up and make this technology freely available to the industry, we will reduce the dependence on limited natural resources to dress a growing global population.”

In addition, they have opened to the public a miniaturised garment-to-garment recycling system. Here, customers can bring unwanted clothes and watch as the container-sized system recycles their garments. They will also be able to purchase recycled products in an on-site retail shop. 

“Seeing is believing, and when customers see with their own eyes what a valuable resource garments at end of life can be, they can also believe in recycling and recognise the difference their actions can make,” Mr Bang said.

For his part, HKRITA chief executive Edwin Keh said: “After successfully developing revolutionary recycling technologies, we have devoted sustained effort to put them into practice. Our recycling systems represent the industry’s well-applied innovation efforts.”

Image credit: H&M Foundation.

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