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Blockchain technology makes the fashion industry ‘greener’

TextileGenesis Group - injoyreview

It is hoped that blockchain technology can make the fashion industry more transparent.

Fashion brands are increasingly interested in promoting ‘green’ campaigns, however, as clothing production often involves complex global supply chains, they cannot guarantee that the ingredients are good. Environmentally friendly material will always be used.

TextileGenesis Group (based in Hong Kong and India) believes that using technology that powers cryptocurrencies like bitcoin can help. The company wants the fashion industry to become more transparent, by using blockchain to digitize supply chains, helping brands track the production process from raw materials to finished products.

Finding sustainable sources of ingredients is becoming a top priority for fashion brands, according to a 2019 report by consulting firm McKinsey. The brands surveyed in this report also said they wanted to create transparency in their supply chains, but many companies have yet to do so according to McKinsey.

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TextileGenesis founder Amit Gautam said: “Sustainability has really become very popular. We are increasingly feeling the urge from consumers, as well as pressure from other brands, to put sustainability as a core value.”
Instead of using fibers like polyester and nylon that contain plastic, some brands want to switch to other materials like recycled cotton, lyocell (made from wood pulp), or viscose (made from wood). However, the lack of transparency in the sourcing process can make it difficult to keep track of what materials are actually in their finished product.

“Textiles are one of the most fragmented industries in the world,” Mr. Gautam said. He suggested that the supply chain for a simple apparel product could also include seven different stages of production in different countries. “Raw materials are sometimes passed through 10 production sites before becoming a t-shirt,” he added.

Now his company is using blockchain technology to record all stages of the production process. Essentially, a blockchain is a publicly accessible online ledger used to create long-term records of production stages. TextileGenesis uses digital codes, or pre-fibers, to provide a time-stamped record of how products move through the logistics network. Once logging is complete, these codes cannot be changed.

“With blockchain technology, manipulating finished products is impossible,” said Francois Souchet, a sustainability expert at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This is a non-profit environmental organization created to improve the ‘green’ of the fashion industry.

Mr. Souchet added: “This technology helps all stakeholders in the supply chain be sure that the information they receive is correct. Once transparency is achieved in the supply chain, brands can reduce their environmental impact and improve their overall quality.”

Since its launch 2 years ago, the TextileGenesis group has won a Global Change Award worth 150,000 euros (US$180,000) for innovations that drive the fashion industry ‘greener’. Along with that, they also ran a pilot project with global fashion brand H&M, looking for recycled polyester and eco-friendly wool materials.

Mr. Gautam’s previous workplace, the Austrian textile factory Lenzing, has been working with TextileGenesis since 2019 and has brought the technology to 120 customers and partners in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Lenzing’s Vice President of Global Business Administration, Florian Heubrandner, said that blockchain technology has provided “unprecedented transparency” in dealings with brands and retailers. “This technology allows them to track exactly where the fiber is spun, where the yarn is woven, or where the finished product is manufactured,” he adds.
He believes this technology can help fashion brands achieve their sustainability goals, which textile manufacturer Lenzing has been achieving. This year, TextileGenesis intends to continue collaborating with brands and manufacturers from India, Bangladesh, and China.

“Traceability and sustainability are on the same front lines,” Gautam said. “Fashion brands are telling consumers about the sustainability of the materials they use. They need to validate that with their product.”

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