June 23, 2021

How Blockchain can make textile supply chains more transparent

2 min read

Textile Trust is the name of a new blockchain-based platform with the goal to ensure security and transparency in textile supply chains.

The first phase of the joint project between software giant IBM, workwear producer Kaya&Kato and bio-cotton company Cotonea with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has just been completed.

Blockchain technology shall make it possible to chronologically link the individual transactions within a process as data blocks (blocks) in the form of a chain and to fill them with corresponding content. In the case of the textile supply chain, the Textile Trust platform stores information about the respective production process steps that cannot be falsified or changed. Authorized parties can then retrieve the original content.

Usually, in the textile supply chain, changing parties are responsible for respective production stages in the textile sector – from growing the cotton to making up the product. Among other things, this makes it so complicated, if not impossible, to trace the production chain of a textile article in retrospect.

Cotton harvest in Kyrgyzstan for Cotonea

Photo: Cotonea/Klaus Mellenthin

Cotton harvest in Kyrgyzstan for Cotonea

“We are responsible for all production steps and know both the farmer’s concerns from our cultivation project in Uganda and the pitfalls of blending cotton fibers. We know both about the wishes of our seamstresses in the Czech Republic and about additives in dyeing. A project like Textile Trust has to involve all stages of the textile chain. The know-how either comes from several contributors who represent their respective, already complex production steps and have to build a common understanding. […] Or the content is provided by one of the few overarching producers of organic cotton textiles, like Cotonea, who also knows the interfaces,” explains Cotonea CEO Roland Stelzer.

The final version of Textile Trust will include a browser interface and an app, by means of which those involved in a production can transmit their data in a tamper-proof manner. The system includes all important parameters such as production standards and certificates to help to achieve transparency in the flow of materials, to simplify administrative processes and certifications.

The Blockchain application shall make it possible to make information visible to end consumers as well and use it for communication without any additional effort.

It took eight weeks to develop a demo version (minimum viable product) with selected basic functions. Now the phase of refinement begins, to which other partners from the textile industry are contributing in addition to those already involved. The goal is to have Textile Trust ready for the market by mid-2022.

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