Established in 1987, the Edison Awards honor excellence in new products and service development, marketing, design and innovation. The annual competition recognizes global inventions in different fields such as machinery, electronics, medicine, logistics and sustainability. Winning projects excel in meeting the criteria of concept, value, delivery and impact.
The Green Machine developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), Hong Kong/China, received a bronze award in the “Circular Economy, Sustainability” category of the 2023 Edison Award on April 20, 2023. This is the 6th award the project has received and was given in recognition of the use of innovative technology to foster the circular economy and sustainable development in the textiles and fashion industry.
The Green Machine separates cotton and polyester (PET) blends by using heat and water, and less than 15% of a biodegradable chemical, solving a long-standing challenge of recycling blended materials in the textiles industry. Recovered PET fibers can be recycled into yarns after decolorization, while cellulose powder decomposed from cotton fibers can be turned into a functional finishes reagent or regenerated cellulose fibers, both for application in the textiles industry, or Absorboost, a water-retention agent for farming. All treated materials can be reused, allowing resources to be fully utilized during their life cycle.
The Green Machine project kicked off in 2016 and its first industrial scale use was in Asia in 2020. Two licensing agreements have been concluded so far. The fashion brand Monki, after its first trial in 2020, reused the material recovered by the Green Machine in their 2023 collection. This efficient commercialization was achieved with the support of the Innovation and Technology Fund and the H&M Foundation.