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H&M Foundation launches project where captured CO2 from clothing feeds plants

Camilla Rydzek
24 May 2022

The H&M Foundation has participated in a new project called the Carbon Looper where clothing, after being treated with a solution, captures CO2 from the air and then releases it as nutrition for plants. 

The innovation is currently being tested in the hydroponic garden at the restaurant Fotografiska in Stockholm.

It was created as part of the Planet First program that was initiated by the H&M Foundation and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA). The partners said the project aims to find ways to lower carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which it considers an urgent priority.

The Carbon Looper project sees cotton garments treated with an amine-containing solution that makes the surface of the fabric capture carbon dioxide from the surrounding air. The carbon dioxide can then be released from the fabric by being heated to 30-40°C where it can naturally be taken up by the plants during photosynthesis.

Fotografiska x H&M Foundation

Christiane Dolva, Strategy Lead Positive H&M Foundation, Martin Wall, Executive Chef Fotografiska, Edwin Keh, CEO HKRITA

Currently research involves live testing the innovation in collaboration with the restaurant Fotografiska, where the staff will wear Carbon Loopers in the form of aprons. The restaurant was chosen because of its hydroponic garden in the basement, which will serves as a CO2 release facility. In parallel to this research is also currently underway to improve and scale the technology.

The amount of CO2 that is captured by a garment per day is approximately equivalent to 1/3 of the amount that a tree absorbs. That means, the partners claim, that after around three "loop-cycles" the garment has effectively climate-neutralised itself, and starts having a climate positive effect.

Christiane Dolva, Strategy Lead at H&M Foundation said: “Our Planet First program with HKRITA is a perfect example of how we inspire industry-wide change by openly sharing proof of concepts. We don’t have time for the traditional and the slow, therefore we are not aiming for perfect but to get the solutions out of the lab as quickly as possible to be tested and improved, and to inspire others and spur collaborations that can ultimately lead to scale and adoption.”

Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer at HKRITA added: “Anything we do in the lab is only useful once it gets out of the lab. The Carbon Looper is one of a series of projects we have been working on to see if we can achieve carbon neutrality for the textile, apparel and fashion industry."

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