The world’s first technology that can recycle blended textiles at scale is to be deployed in Cambodia next year in a collaboration between the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) and the H&M Foundation.
Dubbed The Green Machine, the project was initiated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ Fabric project), HKRITA, Chip Mong Insee, Dakota Industrial, H&M Foundation and VF Corporation.
“Our aim is to develop technologies and solutions that can have a positive impact on our planet, and the Green Machine is an excellent example of that,” said Edwin Keh, CEO at HKRITA. “The continuously growing demand for this solution will drive change and generate value for the entire fashion and textile industry.”
According to the H&M Foundation, it is at the manufacturing stages where the most harmful environmental effects occur. Besides the use of large amounts of water and chemicals, an estimated 10-15 per cent of the total fabric used to produce garments becomes waste at the cutting stage. Today, most of it ends up in landfills or is burned.
The Green Machine separates and recycles polyester and cotton blend textiles at scale without any quality loss. The process uses only heat, water and less than 15 per cent of a biodegradable chemical to separate cotton and polyester materials in a closed-loop system.
“Better waste management will have a positive impact on communities’ resources such as water, air quality and land use,” said Marc Beckmann, project director of GIZ Fabric.
“This will reduce long term stress factors and sources for conflict of different kinds. It will also create new jobs and a sense of pride.”