Pilot project to decarbonize clothes

In order to produce cellulose, Rubi Labs uses biochemical processes

In order to move closer to realizing its vision of carbon-negative viscose, California startup Rubi Labs has acquired an extra $8.7 million in seed funding. Its overall funding now stands at $13.5 million after the most recent round.

With the help of the money, the commercialization process will go on to the testing phase, when end-to-end prototype items will be made, sold in small quantities, and then scaled up. Along with strategic partners H&M and Patagonia, this subsequent phase will feature concurrent trial initiatives with Ganni, Reformation, and Urbn-owned rental site Nuuly. For the majority of the firms who were chosen to demonstrate the concept at various price points, this will take a total of about six months and is already in progress.

In order to produce cellulose, which is used to make lyocell yarn for textiles, Rubi Labs, which bills itself as a “symbiotic manufacturing” company, uses biochemical processes. This eliminates the need for other waste inputs or deforestation. It’s not the only startup attempting to produce textiles from greenhouse gases; Mango Materials in San Francisco and Newlight Technologies in California are also investigating related possibilities. Competitors like Renewcell and Natural Fiber Welding are switching out typical wood pulp inputs for used clothing on the cellulosic material side.

According to Kathleen Talbot, chief sustainability officer and VP of operations at Reformation, where viscose currently accounts for about 20% of the brand’s material sourcing, brands supporting new materials from the pilot phase can be exposed to financial risk if it doesn’t work, but the potential pay-off makes it worthwhile.

One advantage for marketers is that they can control how the content evolves as it scales. The primary difficulty will be integrating the material into current supply chains and demonstrating the concept from beginning to end.

Later on, the rental site Nuuly would intervene to conduct a durability test on the material. The production team at parent firm Urbn, which is currently in discussions with the startup, will make the clothes it tests.

Source: Vogue Business

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