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HKRITA technology makes the 2022 R&D 100

Viable post-consumer recycling solution for built-up cities.

23rd August 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Hong Kong

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

The Green Machine research project of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) has been selected as one of the winners of the 2022 R&D 100 Awards in the category of Process/Prototyping.

Established in 1963, the R&D 100 Awards is the only science and technology awards competition that recognises new commercially-available products, technologies and materials for their technological significance.

The Green Machine provides a hydrothermal solution to separate and recycle cotton-polyester blended textiles at scale. The process uses only heat, water and less than 15% of a biodegradable chemical to selectively decompose cotton into cellulose powders,  enabling the separation of the polyester fibres from the blends. The separated fibres are ready for reuse, while the cellulose powders can be converted into regenerated cellulose fibres and a durable water-repellent finishing reagent, or transformed into superabsorbent polymer for agricultural applications.

In 2020, the first industrial scale Green Machine was set up by established textile manufacturer PT Kahatex in Indonesia, with a processing capacity of 1.5 tons per day. ISKO, one of the world’s leading denim producers, signed a licensing agreement for the Green Machine in 2021.

“We are delighted to receive this honour,”said Edwin Keh, HKRITA CEO. “The Green Machine offers an efficient solution to deal with textile waste. The technology has quickly moved from a lab-scale project in 2016 to a market-ready, industrial-scale system today. When the it is enhanced with features like automation and smart manufacturing currently in development, it will provide a viable post-consumer recycling solution to built-up cities like Hong Kong, which will be demonstrated by our new setup soon.”

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