August 1, 2021

Circular mode: Isko offers a process separating cotton and polyester

Denim specialist Isko announces a licensing agreement with the Hong Kong research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (Hkrita), whose “Green Machine” would separate cotton and polyester. A complex step but prior to the establishment of circularity in the fashion industry.

The process is only 5% based on briodegradable chemicals – HKRITA

Through this partnership, the company intends to lay the foundations for a future offer of 100% recycled materials. The Green Machine is still in a pilot phase of its development, to which Isko now intends to contribute, at a time when the company is developing GRS (Global Recycle Standard) certified fabrics composed of more than 50% of recycled materials.

The Green Machine is based on a hydrothermal treatment method that dissolves cotton cellulose powder, then separates it from the polyester fibers present in the blended fabrics, leaving them 98% intact. The device would be effective in just two hours, thus offering the possibility of mass exploitation. And, in addition to water and heat, the device uses only 5% of chemicals, moreover “green and biodegradable”.

“The Green Machine is revolutionary recycling technology. To see this project become truly commercially viable is wonderful,” said Edwin Keh, Managing Director of Hkrita. A structure supported by the H&M Foundation, which signed an agreement with the Indonesian textile supplier Kahatex last year. “Our investment in this new technology is a new step towards our vision of total circularity,” says Isko CEO Fatih Konukoglu.

Demonstration of the “‘Green Machine”

The recycling of polyester is particularly strategic insofar as, in fiscal 2019, it represented no less than 52.6% of textiles produced in the world, far ahead of cotton (23.3%). Of the 57.7% of tonnes of polyester produced, only 14% came from recycling. With even a decline in recycled polyester caused by the ban on exporting various types of waste to China, including PET (mainly plastic bottles) widely used in the recycling industry.

But reusing polyester is not the only horizon for the fashion industry today. The Fashion for Good organization, which brings together fashion groups such as Adidas, C&A, Kering, Otto Group and PVH Corp, has announced a collective initiative around polyhydroxyalkanoates (or PHA fibers). Namely a biodegradable polyester.

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