A four-year partnership between the nonprofit H&M Foundation and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) reports finding a solution to recycle blend textiles into new fabrics and yarns—without quality loss—through a hydrothermal (chemical) process.
H&M Foundation reports that the technology will be scaled up and made available to the global fashion industry to overcome hurdles in commercially viable separation, sorting and recycling of the most popular materials, such as cotton and polyester blends.
One year into the Closed-Loop Apparel Recycling Eco-System Program, HKRITA, with the Ehime University and Shinshu University in Japan, developed the process to separate and recycle cotton and polyester blends. The recovered polyester material can be reused directly, without any quality loss. The hydrothermal process uses less than 5 percent biodegradable chemicals, to self-separate cotton and polyester blends.
“We are very excited to develop this technology and scale it beyond the laboratory, which will benefit the global environment, people and communities,” said Erik Bang, Innovation lead at H&M Foundation.
The total project investment is estimated at 30 million Euros during the four-year collaboration (2016–2020) and includes funding from the H&M Foundation and the Innovation and Technology Fund of the Hong Kong SAR Government.
H&M Foundation, a nonprofit global foundation, aims to drive long-lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in people, communities and innovative ideas.
The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) engages in applied mid- and downstream research to support the textile and apparel industries, to drive sustainable improvements, and to drive improvements for society.