Teijin is expanding its Eco Circle system for recycling polyester fibres from discarded garments by encouraging more overseas companies to use eco-friendly components and accessories that make garments easier to recycle.

Teijin says the industry's practice of using non-recyclable accessories, such as linings, buttons and interlinings means these items have to be removed before the remaining materials can be processed.

And this, in turn, is limiting the wider adoption of its Eco Circle system.

One way of overcoming the problem was to set up the Eco Circle Garment Accessories Association in October 2008.

Accessories developed by its members are made from Teijin's Ecopet fibre (made from recycled PET bottles) or Eco Circle fibres (a chemically recycled fibre produced from used polyester products).

And the association has now been joined by Hong Kong Non-Woven Fabric Industrial Co Ltd (HKNW) - which makes recyclable products such as fiberfill insulations for the apparel and outdoor markets using Teijin Fibers' Ecopet polyester fibre - as its first overseas member.

This involvement of HKNW, which sells to both Asian and Western markets, should make it easier for garment manufacturers around the world to develop products that are easier to recycle.

Teijin also hopes to persuade more foreign companies to join the association.

The Eco Circle system chemically decomposes polyester at the molecular level and converts it into new polyester raw materials.

Companies that participate in Eco Circle activities collaborate with Teijin to develop and manufacture products made from recyclable materials, as well as collect these products at the end of their useful lives for a new round of recycling.

Since its launch in 2002, Eco Circle has attracted the participation of more than 110 companies, mostly apparel and sportswear manufacturers.

Overseas members continue to increase and now include major brands such as Patagonia, Swany America and Quiksilver in France.