Smart Garment Sorting System for Recycling


The Smart Garment Sorting System allows efficient management of post-consumer textile waste in the garment recycling industry by integrating artificial intelligence, and in conjunction with image analysis techniques, that mainly focuses on hyperspectral spectroscopy. The goal is to achieve a robust and reliable method for sorting textile waste stream.

  • Smart Garment Sorting System for Recycling
Technical name of innovation
Smart Garment Sorting for Recycling
Research completion
Commercialisation opportunities
Technology licensing
Problem addressed

An estimated 92 million tonnes of textile wastes are created annually in the world but the rate of recycling old textile into new clothes remains low. Despite of the wide application of NIR in waste sorting, its use for post-consumer garment sorting is limited. Sorting process of textile wastes is essential as it makes recycling more efficient and reducing labour requirements.

  • The system consists of three classification modules to analyse and identify garment types, materials, and fabric construction automatically and speedy using its proprietary AI algorithms and recognition devices with hyperspectral spectroscopy or near infrared technology.
  • The garment delivery process is aided with automated devices that can reduce manual control. Result generated in downstream modules are cross-checked with the upstream modules to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Classification modules are interlinked with each other via a central system and hereby achieving complete traceability. These modules can be customised to suit operators’ need, for instance, the order of the working steps or the database for garment recognition to allow flexibility in sorting.
Key impact
  • The smart garment sorting system facilitates categorisation with the support of the well-trained AI algorithm and proprietary garment database that allows it to recognise a variety of garments made of different materials and with distinctive knitting or weaving structures.
  • As the system recognises garments using the built-in AI algorithms and deliver garments through automatic devices, it reduces labour requirement and enhances efficiency in textile recycling.
  • With the precise and fast recognition, this garment sorting system encourages post-consumer textile recycling and reduces the demand for virgin fibres. In the long-run, it drives fashion and textile industry to be more sustainable.
  • Gold Medal in the 48th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (2023)
  • Sorting and classification of post-consumer garments of various types, materials, and structures to facilitate textile recycling


  • 22023068998.0 (Hong Kong)
  • PCT/CN2023/078222 (PCT)
The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA)

Established in 2006, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) is funded by the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR government, and hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 

HKRITA has achieved research deliverables over the years around our research clusters targeting in sustainability, industry advancement and social benefits through our centre-owned research teams and laboratories as well as collaborations with industry partners and institutions.