Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel’s Green Machine Garners Edison Award

The Green Machine developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), received a bronze award in the “Circular Economy, Sustainability” category of the 2023 Edison Award earlier this month.

This is the sixth award the project has received and was given in recognition of the use of innovative technology to foster the circular economy and sustainable development in the textiles and fashion industry.

Established in 1987, the Edison Awards honour excellence in new products and service development, marketing, design and innovation.

The annual competition recognises global inventions in different fields such as machinery, electronics, medicine, logistics and sustainability. Winning projects excel in meeting the criteria of concept, value, delivery and impact.

The Green Machine separates cotton and polyester blends by using heat and water, and less than 15% of a biodegradable chemical, solving a long-standing challenge of recycling blended materials in the textiles industry.

Recovered polyester fibres can be recycled into yarns after decolourisation, while cellulose powder decomposed from cotton fibres can be turned into a functional finishes reagent or regenerated cellulose fibres, both for application in the textiles industry, or Absorboost, a water-retention agent for farming.

All treated materials can be reused, allowing resources to be fully utilised during their life cycle.

Edwin Keh, CEO of HKRITA said: “It is an honour to receive this award. We have seen the Green Machine develop so successfully from a research concept to innovative technology for the industry and receive wide recognition in such a short period of time. From a research point of view, this is truly a fast-track development, and very soon we will see the first industrial-scale Green Machine set up in Hong Kong to provide a viable solution to the recovery and use of valuable materials in a sustainable manner.”

The Green Machine project kicked off in 2016 and its first industrial-scale use was in Asia in 2020.

Two licensing agreements have been concluded so far. The fashion brand Monki, after its first trial in 2020, reused the material recovered by the Green Machine in their 2023 collection. This efficient commercialisation was achieved with the support of the Innovation and Technology Fund and the H&M Foundation.

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