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HKRITA: recycling by hydrothermal separation

For the recycling of blended textiles the hydrothermal separation system, the Green Machine, was developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), Hong Kong/China, in collaboration with the H&M Foundation, Stockholm/Sweden. The small-scale Green Machine was set up in Hong Kong in 2018 and now the first industrial scale system will be operational in PT Kahatex, Jakarta/Indonesia.
Garments are often made from a blend of different fibers to improve performance and comfort and to reduce cost. Yet this makes it difficult to recycle the blended materials. The result is most of these end up in landfills and incinerators. The hydrothermal separation system makes recycling of blended materials feasible by selectively decomposing cotton into cellulose powders, thereby enabling the separation of the polyester fibers from the blends. The whole process uses only heat, water and citric acid, a naturally occurring chemical found in lemon juice.
The processing capacity of the first industrial scale Green Machine is about 1.5 tons/day. PT Kahatex will start by using waste (fibers, yarn and fabric) from manufacturing as feedstock to produce garments. This pilot operation builds on the research in the separation of post-consumer apparel carried out in Hong Kong. The PT Kahatex operation will help optimize the parameters of the system.
The first fashion brand to use textile materials made from the Green Machine in their collection is Monki. The brand has announced its ambition to go ‘full circle’ in terms of sustainability, using the Green Machine system to create its first collection using recycled polyester from garments.
(photo: H&M)


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More information: HKRITA