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Miniaturized recycling machine to change consumer perception

Recycling old garments is still a fairly new habit, and while the awareness is increasing only a fraction of all textiles disposed are being recycled today. For the fashion industry to become fully circular, there is an urgent need to change people’s perception of old garments and see it as a resource instead of waste. The Mini Mill is a way to let consumers experience recycling live, and understand its possibilities.

Many of us have heard of textile recycling. But how many have experienced it? Very few. We believe seeing is believing – you can’t change a behaviour if you don’t believe in it. The Mini Mill is an attempt to make the whole recycling process transparent and easy to get. Here, people can walk around the glass box and see each step of the recycling process happning in front of their eyes.

The Mini Mill is located at The Mills, a refurbished factory building in Hong Kong that has been turned into a creative space with incubators, retail shops and cultural events. Here, customers can drop by with their grandmother’s old favourite jumper, and turn it into a new, updated favourite.

How it works

Customers bring their unwanted clothes and watch the container-sized system dissemble and assemble their garments into new fashion finds. The garments go through an eight-step process with a significant lower environmental footprint than producing garments from scratch.

  1. Sanitization
  2. Opening
  3. Cleaning
  4. Carding
  5. Drawing
  6. Rotor spinning
  7. Doubling and twisting
  8. Knitting

Why it’s important

No matter how good the recycling techniques may be, if there are no recycled textiles to use, the mission falls short. The industry needs consumers to recycle their old garments, instead of throwing it in the bin. At the H&M Foundation, we believe we have a role to play to educate, inspire and nudge people into new habits. This is why we sponsor the Mini Mill.

Inviting brands and retailers to join

As a non-profit foundation, our mission is to influence the entire fashion industry. Therefore, the technology and construction of the Mini Mill is open for all brands, retailers and businesses to use. The more we can spread the word about textile recycling, the better.

The Mini Mill is the result of a collaboration between HKRITA, the H&M Foundation and Novetex, with the support from the Mills. The mechanical recycling method is developed by HKRITA and Novetex, and does not allow for separation of different types of textile material. This is however the focus of the Green Machine.

At the end of 2018, a larger version of the Mini Mill was built in Hong Kong by Novetex, and H&M placed the first commercial order.

The Mini Mill has been awarded the Red Dot Award 2019 and a finalist in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards.

Focus area: Planet
Project: Part of Recycling Revolution
Country: Hong Kong
Partner: HKRITA
Project period: 2016-2020

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