LONDON — The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel (HKRITA) is partnering with H&M Foundation on a new five-year collaboration to further drive the sustainable development of the textile and fashion industry.
H&M Foundation will increase its financial commitment to $12 million to accelerate its goal of a closed-loop textile industry. This extends a partnership of the past four years.
HKRITA, which is hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will conduct research on technology breakthroughs while working closely with H&M Foundation to commercialize these. The research projects have substantial support from the Innovation and Technology Fund of the Hong Kong SAR government.
For example, one of the successful technologies developed over the first partnership — a hydrothermal separation treatment, which is also known as The Green Machine — has been used in Monki’s latest collection. Meanwhile, the first retail model of the Garment to Garment Recycling System (G2G), a solution from the first partnership, has been implemented at H&M in Stockholm.
The projects under the new five-year Planet First program include carbon-dioxide-capturing cellulose textiles, bio-removal of denim indigo by macroalgae, regenerated cellulose fiber and the development of a super-absorbent polymer.
Erik Bang, innovation lead of H&M Foundation, said: “We don’t know what a planet-positive fashion industry will look like, no one does. This goal is directional and requires innovation and thinking outside the box in every step of the fashion value chain. The partnership with HKRITA has far exceeded our expectations and we are excited to expand in scope and ambition. We look forward to making the Planet First program a revolutionary one, together with the team at HKRITA.”
Edwin Keh, chief executive officer of HKRITA, added: “Our goal is to find technologies and solutions that we can openly share with the industry to ensure rapid scaling and a positive impact. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious program of its type, designed to move the needle in this industry, and we are very excited to start discovering the breakthroughs that can change the game.”
HKRITA and H&M Foundation has also commissioned the consulting firm PIE Strategy to conduct a comparative environmental impact assessment of hydrothermal separation treatment. The full report, out in the first quarter of 2021, will provide a comprehensive picture of the environmental benefits of the technology used throughout the entire life cycle of a garment.
In addition, a joint applied research laboratory program will be launched in Hong Kong to develop solutions, encourage industry collaboration and support, and further facilitate the sustainable development of the textile and fashion industry.
Funded by the Stefan Persson family, the nonprofit H&M Foundation has donated more than $178 million since 2013 to fast-track the achievements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and to drive positive change for people and the planet.