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Recycling blend textiles ‘without any quality loss’

Hong Kong – A four-year partnership between the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) and the non-profit H&M Foundation has found the means to recycle blend textiles into new fabrics and yarns ‘without any quality loss’.

An innovative hydrothermal process uses only heat, water and less than 5% biodegradable green chemical to self-separate cotton and polyester blends. ‘The recovered polyester material can be reused directly, without any quality loss,’ the project partners stress. The technology will now be scaled up and made available to the global fashion industry to ensure this breakthrough has ‘maximum impact’.

‘For too long, the fashion industry has not been able to properly recycle its products since there’s no commercially viable separation, sorting and recycling technology available for the most popular materials such as cotton and polyester blends,’ observes Erik Bang, innovation lead at H&M Foundation. ‘This very encouraging finding has the potential to change that. We are very excited to develop this technology and scale it beyond the laboratory, which will benefit the global environment, people and communities.’

So far, nearly Euro 6 million has been invested in the collaboration – Euro 2.4 million of which was donated by H&M Foundation, which initiated the project in September last year. It is estimated that the total project investment will be around Euro 30 million across the four-year collaboration (2016-2020), ‘making it one of the biggest and most comprehensive efforts ever for textile recycling’.

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