Walmart and Rubi Laboratories have launched a pilot to test whether usable textiles can be developed from captured carbon emissions generated by manufacturers and facilities in the Walmart supply chain.
“When I toured the Rubi facility earlier this year, I got to see their carbon capture process firsthand, and it felt like magic, this creation of something seemingly out of thin air,” wrote Andrea Albright, EVP of Sourcing at Walmart in a blog post. “The science, though, is more exciting. It started with trees. Rubi founders Neeka and Leila Mashouf took inspiration from how trees ‘eat’ CO2 to create needed cellulose to grow and have figured out a way to mimic this natural process in the lab.
“Their patent-pending process, like trees, captures and converts carbon emissions, spinning the resulting cellulose into something we all need: fabric,” Albright added. “The final products are carbon-negative, resource-neutral textiles that can be used for clothing and other materials.”
The manufacturing pilot will examine how this technology could be integrated at a larger scale in the Walmart supply chain and will test carbon emissions capture at some Walmart facilities. The brand pilot will test the Rubi fiber’s performance in a prototype garment, with a goal of producing garment samples. If successful, a larger apparel collection could be made available in Walmart stores.
“At Rubi, our goal is to ensure a thriving future by restoring Earth’s ecological balance with reimagined supply chains,” said Neeka Mashouf, Co-founder and CEO of Rubi Labs. “Walmart’s ability to mobilize positive impact across its supply chain of diverse U.S. partners could be massively impactful in scaling our production and delivering on our commitments.”
In the blog post, Albright noted that “sustainable should also mean affordable, so we are focused on prototyping an apparel line that can be produced at scale and widely available to our customers. We’re confident that, if successful in these pilots, there is a real possibility of creating garments that offer value and contribute to a better environment for everyone — and we think customers will be excited to be a part of that.”