Traceability is an ever-growing priority in the textile world. Recently, there have been big splashes in the news when textiles are falsely certified as something they are not – proving that traceability and honesty are in high demand . Some countries have started to introduce legislation that enforces traceability. For instance, Germany has a due diligence law that requires companies to meet labor and environmental standards along their full supply chain . In this blog we will explore some technological solutions to the problem of traceability in the textile industry.
Benefits of Fiber Tracking Technologies
Traceability in the textiles industry is important for several reasons. Firstly, it is crucial to weed out unethical activity in supply chains. Increased traceability in the textile industry helps apparel recyclers understand what items are made from so they can reuse or dispose of them properly; a vital step in a company’s sustainability journey, especially when thinking about the Life Cycle Analysis of a product. Considering traceability brings another huge benefit to apparel companies as it enhances investor and consumer trust in the brand, giving shareholders more faith. Also, publicly available supplier lists help from a human rights perspective because they give workers rights organizations greater visibility over the issues that workers face .
Fiber Tracking Technologies
Rather than relying on packaging and labels, Oritain conducts products analyses to help with traceability, using science that originated in the criminal forensic field. The plants and animals that textiles come from absorb compounds into their flesh from what they eat and drink. By collecting samples of products Oritain analyzes both Stable Isotopes and Trace Elements content and then runs the samples through a statistical model to determine the product’s origin .
FiberTrace were founded in Australia in 2018. This technology incorporates luminescent pigments into fibers making a textile that is fully traceable at each stage of the lifecycle, even after being recycled. The pigments are traced using handheld scanners and information about the fiber is stored on a secure blockchain database. FibreTrace technology can be applied to viscose and polyester, with trials happening on wool, leather, hemp, and flax .
Hong Kong-based company Textile Genesis created Fibercoins; digital tokens that can be assigned to any textile asset. These tokens create a digital identity that tracks the fiber as it makes its way through the supply chain. No matter how many times the material is recycled or reused, the Fibercoin stays intact, the information can’t be altered or tampered with, and it is stored using blockchain .
Transparency One provides a digital solution for supply chain transparency, traceability, and consumer engagement. They can track a purchase order to batch-lot level for specific products or raw materials, as well as searching on specific batches to assess impact on finished goods product and at every level in the supply chain. They also have the option to use mobile applications to provide information to end consumers .
Implementing Fiber Tracing Technology
Important though it is, progress in traceability can be complex and difficult to achieve, epecially for apparel brands who have to implement it into their networks of suppliers . It can be prudent to look for advice from consultancy companies who fully understand the issues at hand.
M. Doyle, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://ecocult.com/traceability-technologies-fashion-supply-chain/.
Oritain, [Online]. Available: https://oritain.com/how-it-works/the-science/?gclid=CjwKCAjw_L6LBhBbEiwA4c46up8654zGflgDhmcpudtZZcuQdk-PtFb5FmhVL6qer6xft-bUvtoKahoCjpAQAvD_BwE.
Transparency One, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.transparency-one.com/solutions/.