Today, the cotton-polyester fabric blend is the most popular. However, blended fabrics have not been able to be recycled and fed back into the supply chain as part of a waste-free closed-loop recycling system until now.
VF Corp. will partner with an international consortium on a feasibility study of “The Green Machine,” the world’s first recycling technology that has proven to separate cotton from polyester in blended fabrics. This multi-stakeholder initiative is led by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Bonn/Germany, and brings together key partners along the garment supply chain to assess the industrial scale development of the Green Machine in Cambodia.
Outdoor apparel manufacturer The North Face, Alameda, CA/USA, a brand of the VF Corp., Greensboro, NC/USA, will conduct its feasibility study, ultimately informing its decision to use this technology at scale in 2022. The Green Machine, created by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), Hong Kong/China, is a hydrothermal treatment method using only heat, water and less than 15% biodegradable chemicals to selectively separate cotton from polyester. The quality of the polyester fibers is maintained throughout the process, which allows for fiber-to-fiber recycling and forms a closed loop recycling system that eliminates waste.
The North Face has set a goal for 100% of its apparel fabrics to be recycled, regeneratively-grown and/or responsibly sourced renewable by 2025. Umbrella company VF Corp. has a goal of half their polyester to come from recycled materials by 2025.
Cambodia is the 9th largest garment producer in the world, and roughly 60% of its total industrial waste is comprised of textiles and garments.