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  • Ben Davis

Textiles: Solutions To Waste

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Design Solutions for More Sustainable Textiles

To tackle today’s textile waste problem, many initiatives have been put in place to minimize waste from the source, by making the design of products to last longer and promoting extended use. These strategies are being implemented with existing skills and know-how – including long warranties, making higher quality clothes which are more durable and repairable, and creating services to repair and refurbish and encouraging more re-use. Most notably, smaller fashion brands are leading the way by extending not only the physical but also the emotional durability of clothes.

Recycling Solutions for Textiles & Fabric in the Hospitality Industry

Another major solution being implemented is textile recycling. Landfills, where most textiles end up, are extremely harmful to the environment. Textiles can release toxic substances into groundwater and surrounding soil, destroying the local environment. Instead of throwing out used textiles, programs around the world are encouraging people to recycle them. Recycling 100 million pounds of clothes has an equivalent environmental effect of removing 26,000-35,000 cars from the road. The current programs of textile recycling have several different important steps, which vary depending on whether the textiles are made of natural or synthetic fibers. The first step in the process is collection, in which most programs have centrally located bins that locals can place their used textiles in. Once they have been collected, the textiles are sorted into three groups: reusable clothing, rags and fiber materials. Then, the textiles are processed differently based on whether they are natural or synthetic. Natural textiles are torn into fibers and combined with other fibers, depending on the intended end use of the material. Once cleaned and spun, the resulting material can be used as yarn for weaving and knitting new clothes. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, are granulated and shaped into pellets which can be used in new polyester fabrics.

Hong Kong’s Solutions for Reducing Waste from Textiles in Hospitality Industry

In 2016, there was a total of 125,196 tonnes of textile waste in Hong Kong, and the government is starting to take action. In 2018, an “up-cycling” textile spinning plant was opened by manufacturer Novetex in Tai Po. Tanks in the factory break down complex fabrics into fibres which are spun into yarn that can be exported to make new clothes. This new factory can produce 100kg of recycled materials daily. This is a good start to the recycling of textiles here in Hong Kong. However, this is not the only corporation tackling the problem of waste in Hong Kong. Check out our blog later this week to find out how hospitality groups and NGOs are helping with this problem as well.


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