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H&M and Hong Kong researchers focus on blended textiles recycling

Asia – H&M Foundation has announced a four-year collaboration with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to develop technologies to recycle blended textiles into new fabrics and yarns.

The new partnership aims to create a ‘commercially viable and scalable technology that can be licensed widely to ensure broad market access and maximum impact’, according to the H&M Foundation. To this end, the Swedish retailer’s non-profit arm is contributing Euro 5.8 million (US$ 6.5 million) to HKRITA to develop a series of research projects, while the Innovation and Technology Fund of the Hong Kong SAR Government will provide additional funding and support.

‘This is one of the biggest and most comprehensive efforts ever for textile recycling,’ claims Erik Bang, project manager at the H&M Foundation. The partnership should yield ‘at least one ready technology’ to recycle clothes made from textile blends into new clothes, he adds.

This would be a ‘major breakthrough’ for the fashion industry, which has been producing more and more garments made from a blend of different fibres.

As recycling is difficult, the material is either dumped in landfill or downcycled into insulation, carpeting and other ‘low-value’ applications.

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