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UNECE blockchain pilot for cotton paves the way for more sustainable fashion

UNECE blockchain pilot for cotton paves the way for more sustainable fashion

Snog a log

Since September 2022, as part of  The Sustainability Pledge” initiative, UNECE has been working with fashion company Stella McCartney  and its Cotton supplier SÖKTAS to trace a T-shirt made of jersey fabric through documentary evidence.

The UNECE blockchain platform allows to capture all actors from the T-shirt’s value chain and have them provide documentary proof of their production practices by means of certifications and standards, as so-called “transparency evidence”. On that basis the platform requires the authorization of the respective standard-setting body (e.g. OEKO-TEX, Better Cotton) to validate these certifications and standards, and to avoid fraud and false information.

The pilot has also explored the use of innovative technologies such as Satellite Imagery and Environmental DNA to substantiate the company’s sustainability credentials, including no tillage, crop rotation, biodiversity monitoring, as well as other methods to measure carbon capture rate. The overall objective was to prove that the T-shirt has been produced using regenerative cotton, e.g.  cotton which supports biodiversity preservation, increases ecosystem resilience and safe use of chemicals in  compliance with STANDARD 100 by OEKO TEX and with the ZDHC programme

Initial findings and measurements on carbon sequestration showed that SÖKTAS regenerative cotton agriculture practices in Turkiye had an average carbon capture rate of 18.94 tons CO2 (eq)/ha/year placed in the top 45 cm of the soil profile.

"Regenerative sourcing is not only the future of fashion, but of our planet. If we ever hope to protect and restore nature, we cannot continue to just take from Mother Earth, we also have to give back. By implementing UNECE blockchain traceability technology into our regenerative cotton supply chain, we are proud to pioneer a more transparent path forward – and hope other fashion houses will join us." –commented Stella McCartney Ltd.

The application of advanced technologies in this regard has shown the potential to improve access to trustworthy information on compliance with regulatory requirements for ESG standards throughout the entire product value chain, and increase purchasers’ trust in brands’ sustainability claims

We strongly believe that improved traceability and transparency are key tools to identify, address and finally reduce social and sustainability risks, as well as our combined environmental impact. It has been truly exciting to test this innovative approach and assess UNECE methodology to create more traceable and transparent initiatives and products in the fashion industry”, said Soktas.

Such UNECE blockchain pilots, with the engagement of leading brands, their suppliers and farmers, exemplify the importance of collaborative business models and reliable information for moving from commitment to action and accelerating the responsible transformation of a key sector for the circular transition.

Following the first use case, Stella McCartney is launching a second use case for a woven shirt, also based on regenerative cotton and together with Soktas. In parallel, Stella McCartney is also partnering with another supplier to conduct a traceability pilot on wool.