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HONG KONG – Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited (HKRITA) has announced a collaboration with Seiko Epson Corporation to develop a new fibre recycling solution. The pair will apply HKRITA’s recycling R&D know-how to Epson’s proprietary dry fibre technology.

This work follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two entities in March 2023. Seiko Epson Corporation will use its dry fibre technology to establish a defibrating process on elastic blended and/or tightly weave fabrics. HKRITA will provide technical support in recycling and evaluate the recycling performance in terms of materials properties. The innovation aims to provide a recycling solution for industry application. 

Edwin Keh, CEO of HKRITA, said: “We always strive to maximise the impact of our technologies. This collaboration facilitates a more comprehensive approach to sustainability, allowing the two organisations to develop integrated solution that goes beyond the limitation of a single industry and uncovers synergistic opportunities.”

Satoru Hosono, deputy general administrative manager of Epson’s Technology Development Division, said: “There’s a growing global movement to use recycled textiles. We’re collaborating with the renowned textile and apparel research institute HKRITA to apply our unique dry fibre technology to develop technologies that will allow the recycling of clothing/textile that would previously have been discarded. Our aim is to provide new textile recycling solutions that will respond to growing demands from people around the world.” 

HKRITA is best known for the development of its ‘Green Machine’ which separates blended textiles. The Green Machine uses a hydrothermal treatment method that decomposes cotton into cellulose powders and enables the separation of polyester fibres from blended fabrics. This method was jointly developed by researchers from HKRITA and Shinshu University.

The process is a closed loop and uses only water, heat and less than 5 per cent biodegradable green chemicals. Crucially, this method does not damage the polyester fibres and therefore maintains their quality; the cellulose powders can be used in a variety of ways.

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