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WEF launches blockchain traceability platform for sustainability

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Yesterday, the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched a blockchain track and trace platform to prove the environmental sustainability of supply chains. The traceability platform claims to be neutral and public and will collate blockchain-based supply chain data from multiple companies and sources.

When brands provide traceability data, consumers have to use a separate app for each brand to view information about product origins. The project aims to address this issue.

Last year, the WEF worked with blockchain firm Everledger, TextileGenesis, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and textile business Lenzing Group for a proof-of-concept of the project. Now, Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), EVRYTHNG, and PlataformaVerde will be joining the group to pilot and co-design the second phase of the project.

The WEF said that about 90% of consumers want big brands to help them be environmentally friendly and ethical. Until now, companies would use private blockchains and publish this data themselves. With the new blockchain platform, companies can feed in blockchain supply chain data, and consumers can visualize it on a single neutral site.

The platform will be hosted by UN entity, the ITC using its Sustainability Map.

“To help companies respond to consumer demands and not get left behind, we have built the first platform that works across industries to interpret data from different blockchain solution providers,” said Francisco Betti, Head, Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production, WEF.

Brands want to protect their trade secrets and the identity of their suppliers. WEF’s solution will allow some anonymization of data and supplier identity but is keen to encourage a higher level of transparency, otherwise it undermines the purpose. For example, consumers may want to know that factories are certified as environmentally friendly.

The Lenzing Group supplies the textile industry with cellulose fibers manufactured from sustainable sources such as wood. Last year, the company partnered with TextileGenesis to leverage its blockchain solution for traceability and transparency in supply chains. The two conducted a pilot that tracked the cellulose fibers from manufacturing to retail.

“A growing number of suppliers contributing to traceability platforms like the one of ITC is essential to globally supporting sustainability and fighting climate change,” said Stefan Doboczky, CEO of Lenzing Group.

Meanwhile, TextileGenesis has developed a traceability platform for the apparel industry. It complies with GS1 traceability standards and enables cross-industry collaboration for any textile asset or garment by using tokens.

The third partner, UK-based Everledger also has a blockchain provenance platform. Earlier this week, the company announced it would work with the U.S. Department of Energy and Ford to track electric vehicle (EV) battery lifecycle. It has also combined blockchain and DNA tagging to verify the authenticity of luxury goods.

Lenzing and Everledger shared their blockchain data with the WEF and ITC to develop the project. Now, the initiative will move into its second phase, which will address challenges such as data visualization, privacy, and scalability.

“An open, trusted ecosystem for data sharing is critical to meeting the need and scaling its accessibility to all stakeholders. Circularity in the world’s supply chains of consumer goods, the path to sustainability, cannot be achieved without new networks to exchange data,” said Niall Murphy, CEO, and Co-Founder of EVRYTHNG, a UK-based IoT software company.

Another project from the WWF and BCG Digital Ventures, the OpenSC, also targets supply chain sustainability and has partnered with Nestle.