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YKK Taps AI-Powered ‘Brain’ to Visualize CO2 Absorption at Manufacturing Site

In a new initiative that may sound like science fiction, trims manufacturer YKK is testing a new program that uses an AI-powered “brain” to visualize carbon dioxide absorption at its Kurobe manufacturing site in Japan.

Provided by SoftBank Corporation, the “e-kakashi” system estimates the carbon reduction effectiveness of YKK Center Park’s surrounding forest, Furusato-no-Mori. The forest was established by the company to fulfill founder Tadao Yoshida’s dream of a “factory in a forest,” and to mitigate greenhouse gases.

Using the system’s innovative sensors, YKK is given insight into local meteorological and environmental data such as ground temperatures. The data is then displayed in the café and lounge area of YKK’s Maruyane Exhibition Hall to demonstrate CO2 absorption rates in real-time.

YKK established the Furusato-no-Mori forest in 2009 when it planted 20,000 seedlings of tree species that were native to Kurobe. It has since recorded 318 different species of trees, 26 of which are considered endangered in Japan or Toyama Prefecture. YKK invites local organizations to the forest and holds environmental education events for children.

The e-kakashi trial began in November 2020 and will continue through the month of March 2021. Insights will be used in environmental learning programs, as well as in YKK’s greening activities around the world. The YKK Group promotes greening projects such as tree plantings in all 72 countries and regions in which it conducts business activities.

The initiative follows through on YKK’s Sustainability Vision 2050, its strategy to address climate change, material resources, water resources, chemical management and human rights, as well as 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The company introduced the strategy in October during the digital Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

A year prior, it established the YKK Group Environmental Vision 2050 that defined the company’s long-term environmental initiatives focused on climate change, water usage, resource utilization and nature symbiosis.