H&M Foundation has extended its partnership with Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) and invested HK$100 million to launch the Planet First Program, an initiative to find sustainable solutions for the fashion industry.
The Planet First program aims to find planet positive technologies that will not only look at the circular economy and climate change but also consider all aspects of earth’s natural support systems – land, water, oceans, climate and biodiversity.
One of the projects within the Planet First portfolio is making new garments from toxic-free cellulose generated from The Green Machine, developed by HKRITA and H&M in 2018. Moreover, the powder has super-absorbent characteristics benefit farming. Together with Indian apparel manufacturer Shahi, a small pilot with cotton farmers was successfully implemented where they found increased cotton crop yield by 20 per cent.
H&M Foundation and HKRITA are also working to create an open factory lab for innovators, researchers, suppliers and brands to come together to test new ideas and scale faster. The lab will be opened in Hong Kong, with more details to be revealed next year.
“We don’t know what a planet positive fashion industry will look like, no one does. This goal is directional and requires innovation and thinking outside the box in every step of the fashion value chain,” said Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at the H&M Foundation
Edwin Keh, CEO of HKRITA, says their goal is to find technologies and solutions that can be shared with the industry to ensure rapid scaling and positive impact. “We are very excited to start discovering the breakthroughs that can change the game.”