HKRITA and H&M launch project to treat textile waste in Cambodia

Hong Kong Textile Apparel Institute (HKRITA) and the Swedish H&M Foundation recently announced an ambitious project to address textile waste in Cambodia.

According to a press release by the H&M Foundation, the lead role is played by the Green Machine, the world’s first technology that can recycle blended textiles at scale, developed by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited (HKRITA) and the H&M Foundation.

The H&M Foundation is a non-profit foundation for public good, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders, and main owners of the H&M Group. The Foundation works to fast-track the achievements of the UN Sustainable Development goals by 2030, to safeguard humanity and our planet.

The announcement was made by an international consortium initiated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ FAB-RIC project), HKRITA, Chip Mong Insee, Dakota Industri-al, H&M Foundation, and VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies. A feasibility study is currently being launched to deploy the Green Machine in Cambodia by 2022. The Green Machine will contribute to a better future for the people of Cambodia and the planet.

Speaking on the matter, Edwin Keh, CEO at HKRITA says, “We aim to develop technologies and solutions that can have a positive impact on our planet, and the Green Machine is an excellent example of that. The continuously growing demand for this solution will drive change and generate value for the entire fashion and textile industry.”

The fashion supply chain ranges from the production of fibers to the retail channels. However, it is at the manufacturing stages where the most harmful environmental effects are created. The processes are resource-intensive in which large amounts of water and chemicals are used. Moreover, an estimated 10-15% of the total fabric used to produce garments currently becomes waste already at the cutting stage. Today, most of it ends up in landfills or is burnt.

To create a more sustainable fashion future, circular practices are key. Therefore, GIZ, through its FABRIC project, brought together all key partners along the garment supply chain to assess the industrial-scale development of the Green Machine in Cambodia.

The Green Machine, developed by HKRITA with the support of the H&M Foundation, is the world’s first technology that can separate and recycle polyester and cotton blend textiles at scale without any quality loss. Recycling of single materials has long been possible, but the recycling of blends – and cotton and polyester blends being the world’s most common type of textile – has not. The Green Machine has changed the game. The process uses only heat, water, and less than 15% of a biodegradable chemical to separate cotton and polyester materials in a closed-loop system.

GIZ Fabric will support a feasibility study of The Green Machine in Cambodia so that the private partners could take an informed decision to deploy this cutting-edge technology to start waste recycling in Cambodia for the first time ever, by 2022.

Marc Beckmann, Project Director of GIZ FABRIC says, “Better waste management will have a positive impact on communities’ resources such as water, air quality, and land use. 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.”

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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