The Planet First program launched by the H&M Foundation and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) resulted in the Carbon Looper project, which is described as a game-changer in terms of what it could do to help the clothing industry. combat global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The garments, which are currently being tested by staff at the Fotografiska restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden, are treated with a solution containing amines which allows the surface of the fabric to pick up carbon dioxide from the surrounding air.
The carbon dioxide can then be released from the fabric by being heated to 30-40°C, in a greenhouse where it can be naturally absorbed by plants during photosynthesis.
It is said that the amount of CO2 captured by a piece of clothing per day is equivalent to one third of the amount a tree absorbs per day. And after just three “loop cycles”, the garment has effectively neutralized itself climate-wise – and instead begins to have a positive effect on the climate.
The restaurant was chosen to test the garment, which takes the form of an apron, because its famous hydroponic garden in the basement would serve as an excellent CO2 emission facility.
The team behind the innovation wants to discover how to improve and evolve this technology in parallel, because the goal of the collaboration is to push the entire fashion industry to become positive for the planet at the instead of exhausting its resources.
Christiane Dolva, head of strategy at the H&M Foundation, explains: “We want to find new solutions that allow the fashion industry to become positive for the planet. And since change must happen now, we focus on impatient research to innovate quickly, with rapid iterations to identify disruptive and scalable solutions.
She believes the Planet First program with HKRITA is a perfect example of how to inspire industry-wide change by openly sharing proof of concepts. “We don’t have time for the traditional and the slow, so we’re not aiming for the perfect but to get solutions out of the lab as quickly as possible to be tested and improved, and to inspire others and drive the collaborations that can ultimately lead to scale and adoption.
HKRITA CEO Edwin Keh adds, “Everything we do in the lab is only useful when you get out of the lab. The Carbon Looper is part of a series of projects we are working on to see if we can achieve carbon neutrality for the textile, apparel and fashion industry. We will be monitoring this test at Fotografiska to see how we can improve the technology and develop other uses for it.
The restaurant’s executive chef and planetary keeper, Martin Wall, believes the innovation fits perfectly with his restaurant’s overall philosophy and the ideal of creating a circular cuisine based on organic and locally grown dishes.
He says: “The project not only helps raise awareness of the climate crisis among our customers, but is also inspiring evidence of the breathtaking research underway at the moment.
Last month, Biorestore, winner of the H&M Foundation’s 2022 Global Change Award, launched a crowdfunding campaign for its laundry solution that restores old and worn clothes to like-new condition.