Read in 5 mins

The Green Machine to transform textile recycling in Cambodia

Today, an ambitious project to address textile waste in Cambodia was announced. The lead role is played by the Green Machine, the world’s first technology that can recycle blend textiles at scale, developed by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited (HKRITA) and the H&M Foundation.

Green Machine

The announcement was made by an international consortium initiated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ FAB-RIC project), HKRITA, Chip Mong Insee, Dakota Industri-al, H&M Foundation and VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies. A feasibility study is currently being launched to deploy the Green Machine in Cambodia by 2022. The Green Machine will contribute to a better future for people of Cambodia and the planet.

“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.”

Edwin Keh, CEO at HKRITA

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, 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 and 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 biodegradable chemical 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 Cambodia for the first time ever, by 2022.

“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.”

Marc Beckmann, Project Director of GIZ FABRIC

About the Green Machine

The Green Machine is a hydrothermal method which uses only heat, water, pressure and a biodegradable green chemical to recycle blend textiles. It is cost effective and time efficient, and generates no secondary pollution since it is a closed loop system where the water, heat and chemicals are used again and again. The output is long and good quality polyester fibres which can be used to make new garments. The cotton is extracted as cellulose powder, which can be used in multiple ways. In our new program with HKRITA called Planet First, we are exploring how it can be used to make new clothes as well as to improve cotton farming. In 2020 the first industrial system was built at Kahatex in Indonesia. In 2021, denim supplier ISKO invested in a Green Machine system. The Green Machine in Cambodia is the third industrial order.

About the partners

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is Germany’s leading provider of international cooperation services. As a federal enterprise, we support the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. We are also engaged in international education work around the globe. GIZ is fully owned by the Federal Republic of Germany, represented as the shareholder by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF).

GIZ’s regional project “Fostering and Advancing Sustainable Business and Responsible Industrial Practices in the Clothing Industry” (FABRIC) is addressing sustainability in the textile and garment industry in its social, economic, and environmental dimensions, encompassing a more comprehensive approach on engaging the private sector in project activities. The project is working in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Vietnam and cooperates with actors in China, supporting the efforts of business representatives, government institutions, civil society, and trade unions to build an industry that offers quality jobs, protects the environment, and contributes to economic growth.

The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited (HKRITA) is the premier R&D centre for textiles and clothing in Hong Kong. Their work is to foster technology advancement, innovations, and breakthroughs to improve global competitiveness. HKRITA is funded by the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government and hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Chip Mong Insee Cement Corporation is a joint venture company between Chip Mong Group from Cambodia and Siam City Cement Company (SCCC) from Thailand.

In 2019 Chip Mong Insee launched the business unit Chip Mong Ecocycle to provide sustainable industrial waste management solution through cement kiln co processing for the first time in Cambodia. Chip Mong Ecocycle is driving for transformation in industrial waste management in Cambodia through partnerships and collaborations to bring new technologies for sustainable industrial waste management through circularity.

Dakota Industrial CO. LTD is one of the leading garment manufacturers in Asia. Dakota Industrial was established in 1979 by the Tsang brothers in Hong Kong. They now employ over 10,000 people, have six offices and five production units across Asia. More than 500 million pieces of garment have been produced over the years.

H&M Foundation is an independent non-profit global foundation headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders, and main owners of the H&M Group, it was founded to accelerate the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The H&M Foundation uses collaboration and innovation to co-create, fund, and share solutions for the world’s most urgent challenges. To help safeguard the welfare of humanity they are catalysing the fashion industry to become planet positive and accelerating development for inclusive societies.

VF Corporation is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear, and accessories companies. Founded in 1899 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The company’s 13 brands, including Vans, The North Face, Timberland, and Dickies, are organized into three categories: Outdoor, Active and Work. Their purpose is to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet.