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H&M and HKRITA to set up recycling facilities in Hong Kong

The H&M Foundation and The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) have developed the opening of two textile recycling facilities which will put HKRITA’s hydrothermal method for recycling cotton and polyester blends to use.

H&M and HKRITA to set up recycling facilities in Hong Kong
Figure: New facilities for textile blend recycling takes fashion industry one-step closer to circularity. Credit: H&M Foundation

In the last year, within four-year( 2016-2020) long partnership between HKRITA and non-profit H&M Foundation, HKRITA presented a technological breakthrough with a hydrothermal method for recycling cotton and polyester blends into new fibers. Blends are the most common, yet unrecyclable, type of textile in the world.

Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M Foundation, said in a statement that this is a significant step towards a new fashion industry that operates within the planetary boundaries.

“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,” he said.

H&M and HKRITA added that the purpose of the facilities is to invite fashion companies and their stakeholders to see, test and implement the technology. HKRITA will license the results widely to make it available to all and enable a bigger impact.

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.

Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M Foundation

Erik Bang also added, “Seeing is believing, and when customers see with their own eyes what valuable resource garments at the end of life can be, they can also believe in recycling.”

Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer of HKRITA, said in his speech, “After successfully developing revolutionary recycling technologies, we have devoted sustained effort to put them into practice.”

He further added that their recycling systems represent the industry’s well-applied innovation efforts. These not only revitalize a decades-old major industry but also do it most sustainably for the benefit of their community and as a responsible global citizen.

The facilities will be located at the Novetex Factory in Tai Po Industrial Estate, Hong Kong. The opening date has not been disclosed. The H&M Foundation is set to invest approximately 7 million US dollars in the project, over the next four years.

The H&M Foundation allocates 50% of the total surplus to research on textile recycling and the other 50% to projects focusing on equality and inclusion of marginalized groups.

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