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H&M Foundation unveils garments that capture CO2 from the air

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

May 23, 2022

Fashion

Image: H&M Foundation

Fashion group H&M’s non-profit H&M Foundation and The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) have unveiled cotton garments that can capture CO2 from the air and release it as nutrition for plants.

The ‘Planet First’ programme from the two organisations has stated that the ‘Carbon Looper’ project could potentially be a “game-changer” when it comes to fighting global CO2 emissions. As cotton garments treated with an amine-containing solution allows the fabric surface to capture 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 for instance, where it can naturally be taken up by the plants during photosynthesis. The amount of CO2 that is captured by a garment per day is approximately equivalent to a third of the amount that a tree absorbs per day, explained H&M Foundation. In addition, after only three ‘loop-cycles’, the garment has effectively climate-neutralised itself and starts to have a climate-positive effect.

Image: H&M Foundation

The Carbon Looper project is being live tested in the form of an apron being worn by restaurant staff at Fotografiska Stockholm, chosen for having a hydroponic garden in the basement, which will serve as an excellent CO2 release facility.

Cotton garments treated to capture CO2 being tested by H&M Foundation

Christiane Dolva, strategy lead at H&M Foundation, said in a statement: “We want to find new solutions that can enable the fashion industry to become planet positive. And since change needs to happen now, we focus on impatient research to innovate at speed, with rapid iterations to identify disruptive and scalable solutions.

“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. We will be monitoring this test at Fotografiska to see how we can improve the technology and develop more uses for it.”

Image: H&M Foundation
H&M Foundation
HKRITA
SUSTAINABLE FASHION
The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel