The U.S. ban on cotton coming from Xinjiang has proven once more how essential provide chain transparency and proof of origin is. But fragmented textile provide chains make it difficult for manufacturers to keep up materials transparency and traceability, from fiber manufacturing to retail. Meanwhile, provide chain disruptions brought on by Covid-19 made manufacturers conscious of how essential provide chain transparency past tier 1 is to danger evaluation and mitigation.

Award-winning Swiss know-how firm Haelixa has developed a know-how based mostly on DNA to mark, hint and authenticate merchandise from supply to retail, working throughout industries like style and valuable metals.

Gediminas Mikutis, CTO and co-founder of Haelixa, spoke with Sourcing Journal about how they resolve manufacturers’ growing want for provide chain accountability.

What are the challenges and repercussions for manufacturers that don’t or can’t validate their supplies?

The demand for accountability throughout the entire worth chain is rapidly taking central stage each within the minds of finish shoppers and within the authorities agenda. There are new laws on nationwide and European ranges that maintain manufacturers immediately accountable for violations that occur of their provide chain. In the U.S., as a result of ban on cotton coming from the Xinjiang area, a number of manufacturers have had difficulties importing items once they couldn’t clearly confirm and show product origin. We have additionally seen model photos broken and shopper boycotts when manufacturers have been linked to human rights violations of their provide chain.

Haelixa bodily tags a garment or materials. What is the benefit of that versus a extra digital strategy to traceability?

Digital instruments reminiscent of blockchain are solely as dependable as the information uploaded into them. If the textile product is mixed or exchanged throughout advanced provide chains, blockchain alone wouldn’t detect it. At Haelixa, we flip the product itself into the service of details about its origin and journey alongside the availability chain. We develop a novel DNA marker for each producer, product or batch, then immediately apply it to the fiber firstly of the availability chain. The verification is finished with a PCR check—the identical used to detect Covid-19—on the ultimate garment or intermediate product. For safety, to detect the preliminary marker you want a novel counteragent that works as a key-lock-system. This makes the know-how fraud-proof and offers dependable knowledge.

While Haelixa’s DNA tracing works on synthetics, shoppers have an extra environmental concern for pure fibers. How does Haelixa’s GOTS approval work to your benefit right here? 

It is crucial that including bodily markers to a textile product doesn’t compromise its high quality, processability or sustainability footprint. The Haelixa DNA markers are innocent for people and the setting, freed from poisonous chemical compounds and heavy metals, GMO-free, and compliant with Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex. The markers are additionally a GOTS-approved enter, permitting their use in natural textiles. Some different bodily traceability options use artificial fibers and even heavy metals, which contradict shopper wishes to purchase natural textiles. Haelixa doesn’t have an effect on natural claims and offers forensic proof {that a} product is coming from an organic-certified provider.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is growing a blockchain traceability instrument for the availability chain. What is Haelixa’s position in that? 

On May 20, 2021, UNECE launched “The Sustainability Pledge” to advertise measurable and verifiable sustainability within the garment and footwear sector. We have been on the skilled panel because the starting and contributed to the framework initiative. In a pilot challenge to bodily confirm product claims, Haelixa is now offering DNA markers to bodily confirm the knowledge associated to product origin, sustainability, and high quality that’s then uploaded on the blockchain.

How lengthy till traceability is desk stakes within the attire trade? What will it take to make it mainstream?

As with any innovation to be accepted, the know-how should resolve an present downside and supply a transparent profit. With the brand new provide chain laws, it may be dangerous for firms with out dependable knowledge to show the place their merchandise got here from and what journey they took. Offering transparency by means of traceability additionally creates a consumer-facing profit for manufacturers, defending their status amongst shoppers who demand to know who made their garments/material and below what circumstances. For suppliers, traceability gives a aggressive benefit, permitting them to turn into a most well-liked provider, entice new prospects and ask for a premium worth.

Increasingly, traders and stockholders are evaluating firms based mostly on their potential to mitigate danger. How does a know-how like yours make style manufacturers extra enticing?

Indeed, provide chain resilience and sustainability have gotten megatrends for traders not solely to cut back danger, but in addition to generate aggressive returns. A CSRHub examine of over 1,000 massive firms (over $1 billion) proves the growing connection between sustainability efficiency and model fairness. Haelixa’s bodily traceability know-how offers forensic proof {that a} product is what it claims to be, thus bettering provide chain resilience and supporting model and producer sustainability declarations—from fiber manufacturing (or recycling) to completed items.

Greenwashing is rampant within the trade. How does using a traceability know-how maintain each node alongside the availability chain accountable to one another?

To make claims about sustainability of manufacturing throughout the availability chain, it’s essential to have traceability first. Physically marking the product and tracing it throughout completely different processing steps permits manufacturers to forensically hyperlink the completed product to the origin and high quality of the uncooked materials and processes used to provide it. Verifiable and traceable knowledge is the important thing to avoiding greenwashing and constructing credible product claims.

To study extra about Haelixa’s traceability system, click on right here.