The circular textile economy in action: The Billie Upcycling System

recycling sign

The circular textile economy in action: The Billie Upcycling System

Sustainability dominates today’s discourse, permeating both social and mainstream media. Amidst this sea of information, one pivotal focus is the circular textile economy and the apparel industry’s profound environmental impact.

immago, committed to enhancing its sustainability footprint, actively engages in partnerships and product offerings aligned with the global sustainability platform. While eco-friendly products play a crucial role, a standout illustration of sustainability in action comes from a local Hong Kong-based organisation – Novetex Textiles.

The rise and revival of textiles in Hong Kong

Once a thriving industry, textile and apparel manufacturing in Hong Kong faced a decline with the ascendancy of Mainland China. Despite this, Novetex Textiles defies the trend. In July 2019, they inaugurated the first textile mill in Hong Kong in nearly 50 years. What sets this mill apart is its unwavering commitment to tackling textile waste, a core focus for contributing to circular economy growth.

recycling symbol on yellow jeans, closeup

The Billie System: A waterless innovation

At the heart of Novetex Textiles’ sustainable endeavour is the Billie System, an innovative waterless process designed to upcycle textile waste. The system’s uniqueness lies in its environmental minimalism – it neither consumes water nor emits wastewater or chemical waste.

Developed in collaboration with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles & Apparel (HKRITA), the Billie System processes both natural and man-made fibres without hazardous processing parameters.

The six steps of sustainable reclaiming

The patented Billie process follows six distinct steps to transform textile waste into re-spinnable material:

  1. Ozone Sanitisation: Textile waste undergoes disinfection via an ozone sanitisation system.
  2. Hardware Removal: Buttons and zips are efficiently removed.
  3. Colour Classification: Fabrics are automatically sorted into nine colour classifications.
  4. Automated Processing: Colour-sorted material is transferred automatically for processing.
  5. Ultraviolet Light Treatment: Two stages of ultraviolet light treatment enhance the material.
  6. Fibre Formation: Recycled fibres are transformed into slivers suitable for spinning and new textile production.


The Billie System, capable of processing around 3,000 kg of fibre per day, emerges as more than a waste processing machine. It encourages a shift in mindset, emphasising the need to focus on waste reduction, efficient design, sustainable material sourcing, and responsible consumption.

The challenges and opportunities of recycled fibres

While recycled fibres present a sustainable alternative, they come with limitations. The industry’s significant players must embrace innovative processes like the Billie System for true global traction.

Navigating the challenges and seizing opportunities in recycled fibres demands industry leadership and a commitment to sustainable practices. Brands must actively engage with research and development to enhance the quality of recycled materials.

At the same time, educational initiatives for consumers and industry professionals can bridge the knowledge gap, fostering a collective understanding of the benefits and complexities associated with recycled fibres.

As the industry pioneers these efforts, it contributes to environmental conservation and sets a precedent for responsible and innovative fashion practices globally. The journey towards a sustainable future requires concerted efforts, and each stride in embracing recycled fibres brings the industry one step closer to a circular and environmentally conscious paradigm.

immago, deeply entrenched in the global apparel market, aligns itself with evolving trends, emphasising client engagement and nurturing desires for recycling solutions.

circular textile economy label

immago’s commitment to sustainability

As a dedicated participant in the global apparel market, immago stands proud in adapting to global trends and client requirements. The team actively supports clients on their sustainability journey, recognising the evolving nature of this path.

We don’t think sustainability should be a marketing buzzword. We strongly believe that a greener, more environmentally friendly business practice is important for the planet and a business’s future survival.

We don’t just talk about sustainability, we are 100% committed to renewable, ethical, and eco-friendly practices for our company at all levels of operation.

As part of this journey, we are proud to have achieved certification under the Forestry Stewardship Council’s Chain of Custody program.  This traces the origins of wood & paper-based products we supply to sustainable, well-managed and recycled sources, contributing to the FSC vision of protecting the world’s forests, forest wildlife and habitats, as well as protecting water quality, & safeguarding the rights of local or Indigenous people.

Contact any of our offices, and our global team will guide you in sustainable solutions and across all your brand enhancement needs. Let us contribute to your specific requirements, offering advice and assistance for a comprehensive and sustainable brand evolution.