The retailer is testing a new manufacturing process that aims to convert pollutants into textiles.
In line with its plans to achieve net zero emissions, Walmart has teamed up with Rubi, a California-based start-up that uses patent-pending technology to create “carbon-negative, resource-neutral textiles” that can then be used to make garments.
The technology works by imitating nature, with scientists behind the innovations looking into how to recreate how trees "eat" CO2 and convert it into cellulose. Andrea Albright, EVP, sourcing at Walmart described the process as “like magic” and creating something “out of thin air,” adding that the innovations could help Walmart to boost resilience throughout its apparel supply chain.
While currently in the testing stage of development, the two companies plan to roll out a manufacturing pilot, during which time they will create a prototype garment and test broader carbon emission capture capabilities within Walmart's own facilities. If the pilot proves successful, a broader apparel collection featuring the carbon emissions-based fabric could shortly be available in Walmart stores, Albright shared in a statement.
The company also announced plans to migrate to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and heating in Walmart stores, clubs, data centers, and distribution centers by 2040 and work with suppliers to avoid one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The nation’s largest retailer has made a habit of tapping smaller start-ups in pursuit of sustainability and innovation. Recently, Walmart invested heavily in vertical farming technology platform Plenty, with a view to creating more eco-friendly ways to source pesticide-free leafy greens. At the time, the retailer noted vertical farming supplements traditional farming practices and alleviates challenges on the food supply chain in a more sustainable way.
Last month, the retail giant also unveiled plans to adopt measures to reduce packaging waste for online orders. With a 27% growth in Walmart's e-commerce business, the initiative aims to eliminate 65 million plastic bag mailers or more than 2,000 tons of plastic from circulation by the end of the current fiscal year.
The company’s new M0.0NSHOT hightop sneakers use specially sourced materials to achieve a carbon footprint of net 0.0 kg CO2. Allbirds is calling on the rest of the fashion world to copy its method and is giving away the “recipe” for public use.