Walmart has teamed up with Rubi Laboratories to explore the process of transforming carbon emissions into affordable clothing with zero waste.
The company began with an initial question: what if clothing could be produced from carbon emissions? From there, Walmart and Rubi Laboratories collaborated to develop pilot projects, and the companies started by identifying how carbon emissions could be captured from Walmart facilities and then converted into a garment prototype — all while with zero waste. This partnership aims to reimagine the apparel supply chain, changing the way textiles are produced.
The Role of Carbon Capture Technology
Rubi Laboratories, founded by Neeka and Leila Mashouf, drew inspiration from nature’s carbon capture process. Similar to how trees absorb carbon dioxide to produce cellulose for growth, Rubi developed a patent-pending technology that replicates this natural process in the lab. This method captures and converts carbon emissions, resulting in carbon-negative, resource-neutral textiles suitable for clothing and various other materials.
The Pilot Projects
Walmart and Rubi Laboratories initiated two pilot projects to test the feasibility of integrating carbon capture technology into the retail giant’s supply chain.
The pilot projects include focusing on both the manufacturing and brand elements of production. The first, the manufacturing pilot, aims to examine how Rubi’s technology can be scaled up within Walmart’s supply chain. The team will explore the capture of carbon emissions at several Walmart facilities.
The latter pilot focusing on brand is where Rubi’s fiber performance will be evaluated through the creation of a prototype garment. The goal is to develop garment samples that, if successful, could lead to a larger apparel collection available in Walmart stores.
Walmart’s newest partnership with Rubi Laboratories promotes both a sustainable, yet affordable approach. As Walmart’s company ethos is to promote affordability to its customers, it also is aiming to provide a sustainable option to those who seek affordability paired with an environmentally conscious approach to clothing. By prototyping an apparel line that can be produced at scale and offered at an accessible price, Walmart aims to cater to customers who seek both value and environmentally friendly choices.
Reimagined Supply Chains
Neeka Mashouf, co-founder and CEO of Rubi Labs, acknowledged Walmart’s potential to mobilize a positive impact across its diverse U.S. partner supply chain.
Rubi Laboratories said the implications of these pilots could extend beyond the apparel industry. Walmart envisions potential applications in packaging, building materials, food, and even the creation of new raw materials. Some of these potential endeavors would emphasize the circular economy where waste is minimized, and resources are regenerated.