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Cutting-edge technology to transform textile recycling in Cambodia

HKRITA - The Green Machine

The hydrothermal method of recycling blend textiles, a project in collaboration with HKRITA and H&M Foundation., © H&M Foundation

13.10.2021 - Article

Today, an international consortium initiated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ FABRIC project), The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited (HKRITA), Chip Mong Insee, Dakota Industrial, H&M Foundation and VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies, announced an ambitious project to address textile waste in Cambodia. This is the world’s first recycling technology that can recycle blend textiles at scale. A feasibility study is currently being launched to deploy The Green Machine in the Kingdom by 2022, the world’s first recycling technology that could potentially recycle blend textiles at scale. The Green Machine will contribute to a better future for people of Cambodia and the planet.

The fashion supply chain ranges from production of fibres 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 landfill or is burnt.
To create a more sustainable fashion future, circular practices are key. Therefore, GIZ through its FABRIC project, which is implemented on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) 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 from H&M Foundation, is the world’s first technology that can separate and recycle polyester/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 biodegradablechemical 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 the kingdom for the first time ever, by 2022.

“Our aim is 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,” says Edwin Keh, CEO at HKRITA.
“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,” says Marc Beckmann, Project Director of GIZ FABRIC.

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