September 3, 2020
In light of greater overall awareness of climate change and its implications, as well as increasingly eco-minded guests, hotels have visibly grown more determined to achieve goals of sustainability. From uniting under the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and eschewing single-use plastics completely to reducing unethically sourced food, some of the world’s top hospitality companies are actively seeking better ways to manage their waste.
In part due to a lack of recycling solutions, improving the circularity of hotel textiles has been somewhat excluded from the narrative — until now.
Presenting a solution
In 2019, Novetex Textiles launched The Billie System, an upcycling factory in Tai Po, Hong Kong. The patented six-step system processes textile waste such as discarded clothing and excess inventory, converting these into thoroughly sanitized strips of fiber known as slivers. The process uses no water, and produces no hazardous discharge. Once the waste is broken down into fibres, it is ready to be spun into yarn. Typically, recycled fibers from The Billie System are blended with varying percentages of virgin fiber, depending on the envisioned end-product.
While originally conceived to address Novetex Textiles’ internally produced textile waste, The Billie System offers a world of possibilities for sustainable solutions in various other industries. In recapturing the value of materials considered “waste,” The Billie System is creating a second life for materials that already exist within the ecosystem, and diverting these textiles from landfills.
Closing the loop
Considering the volume of textiles used, and later eliminated, recycling is not only ideal, but necessary. In introducing The Billie System to the hospitality sector, the objective is for companies to view recyclable materials as a potential resource, instead of considering them waste. Additionally, recycled fibres could reduce the need for conventional virgin fibres such as cotton, which accounts for around 3% of the world’s water consumption, according to the United Nations .
As a recycling partner for hotels, The Billie System, which has processed its pilot batch of textiles from the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels’ The Peninsula in Hong Kong, provides a link that has been missing for some time. With the capacity to process three tonnes of textile waste daily, The Billie System could turn textiles into recycled, thoroughly sanitized slivers. After being spun into yarn, these can create entirely new, usable products, ranging from garments such as knit sweaters and scarves, to accessories such as blankets, coasters, cushion covers, laundry and shoe bags, tote bags and more.
Apart from breaking ground in this arena, however, the team behind The Billie System is determined not only to create a solution, but to promote a change in perspective — one that sees “waste” in a productive new light.
Note: In 2020, The Billie System received an Honorable Mention in the Corporate Social Responsibility category at Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.
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