Handkerchiefs in Hong Kong

Posted on 10 December 2020.

In Hong Kong, The Chief Project gives a second life to textile industry waste. This young company turns the scraps of fabric discarded by the garment industry into handkerchiefs, masks and even food coverings.


Every day more than 340 metric tons of clothes and fabrics are dumped in the Asian metropolis.

What if cloth handkerchiefs could help to reduce the waste generated by the fashion industry? That's the idea behind The Chief Project, a small company in Hong Kong that was set up in 2016. It has a really simple business model: for next to nothing (3% of the market price) it buys the fabric this industry would otherwise dump and uses it to make reusable handkerchiefs.

And there's plenty of it... “For example, if a buyer wants to order fabric to produce 10 sample shirts, they will need around 23 yards. But so much more has to be produced – around 100 yards – before they can get the most stable quality”, explains Agnès Pang, one of the founders of The Chief Project, in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

That's yards of unused textiles that usually end up in Hong Kong's landfills. And you can add all the old clothes discarded by its residents to this waste. In all, according to the local environmental protection department, more than 340 metric tons of clothing and fabric are chucked every day. The equivalent of 700,000 sweaters!


Second life and re-use

The Chief Project's cotton handkerchiefs give a second life to some of this waste. Handmade in local workshops, they help reduce the city’s textile waste.

But the company has another goal. By promoting reusable fabric handkerchiefs, it hopes to reduce the consumption of single-use tissues and paper wipes. According to city authorities, this type of paper waste is the third largest source of waste in the city - just behind plastic and food waste.

With this in mind, since its launch The Chief Project has diversified its product line. The company now also produces reusable masks and reusable beeswax food coverings. The goal is to help people in this major Asian metropolis to reduce the volume of their day-to-day waste.