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Hong Kong’s recycling mill produces yarn from old clothes

An upcycling mill has opened in Hong Kong. It produces recycled yarn spun out of old, discarded clothes. When fully equipped, it will be able to spin three tons of recycled fiber from roughly the same amount of textile waste daily, without affecting cost or quality. Hong Kong used to be a textile manufacturing powerhouse. The facility is owned by textile firm Novetex is expected to put the city’s textile industry back on the map.

The firm will collect old clothing and textiles from its retail partners or NGOs. Three production lines at the facility mechanically sanitise, sort and process the textiles into yarn in a largely automated process which can then be shipped off as raw material to mainland China and manufactured into new fabrics and garments. The operation requires at least six workers. The entire process operates without water or effluent discharge. Established in 1976, Novetex produces about nine million kg of wool annually.

New innovations in upcycling are vital because of the increasing costs and environmental concerns that come with producing conventional fibers such as cotton from scratch. With this mill Hong Kong wants to prove that it can solve its textile waste problem and that in such a small, compact city, sustainable textile recycling is feasible.