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Web Exclusive | September 2016

New tech to recycle blended textiles!

The Swedish retailer H&M’s non-profit arm H&M Foundation, which has committed to collecting used clothes in stores in an effort to keep them out of landfills and give them a second life, has teamed up with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to develop the required technologies to recycle blended textiles into new fabrics and yarns.

The four-year partnership aims to create a commercially viable and scalable technology that can be licensed widely to ensure broad market access and maximum impact.

While it is currently possible to mechanically recycle single fibre fabrics such as denim jeans and wool sweaters, a lot of garments are made from a blend of different fibres. For instance, a pair of women’s jeans might be made from a blend comprising 94 per cent cotton, 5 per cent polyester and 1 per cent elastane, to improve fit, style and comfort. When these garments reach the end of their lives, they usually end up discarded in landfills or downcycled into low-value applications like insulation or carpeting.

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