EP3: Jesse Dolstra, RemoKey, Understanding traceability in the textiles & fashion industry

During this interactive session, Jesse Dolstra, from RemoKey, talks about the concept and importance of transparency in the Textiles and Fashion industry.

Some key takeaways from the session:

  • What is the difference between Traceability, Transparency, Chain of Custody, and Tracers?
    • Traceability: the ability to trace the history, application, or location of a product while tracking it along the supply chain and the recycling process. Traceability provides assurance around the facts.
    • Transparency: the ability to share and disclose the traceability data with relevant stakeholders such as consumers, suppliers, employees, and investors.
    • Chain of Custody: the ability to trace the change in (legal) ownership of the product as it moves along the supply chain.
    • Physical Markers (Tracers): the ability to physically verify the presence of a fiber in a textile product at any stage of the supply chain.

  • Why is Traceability so important?
    • “People care when they know”, and as we do not know where our products are coming from, it is confusing and often difficult to know what is sustainable and what is not.
    • 95% of the fashion industry has no visibility across supply chain tiers. This translates to Sustainable Material ranking first, and transparency/Traceability ranking second in the top 5 apparel sourcing topics on the agenda for the next 5 years.

  • How can we implement Traceability and create more Transparency?
    • GRS Certification:
      • The global standard for setting requirements for third-party validation of recycled content
      • Takes into account the chain of custody and social, environmental, and chemical practices
      • Products should contain at least 20% recycled content
    • QR Codes & RFID-Chips
      • Difference in technology, communicate about transparency. A big step forward but vulnerable to copy.
    • Tracers: Invisible signature in the garment, like a nano marking fibre, can be part of the textile finish or part of the thread/polymer
    • Blockchain: Textile Genesis as an example, trace raw material to its origin and use tokens as a unique fingerprint. Create a digital copy of the physical product

  • Why is Traceability still not widely adopted by the industry?
    • Complicated: fragmented, long (in time), and ever-changing supply chains
    • Low demand from consumers and governments, but increasing: new laws are coming (ACM – material passports)
    • It requires time, commitment, and investments

  • How to start?
    • Create insights in your supply chain and production processes to ensure credibility, and look at third parties to take the next steps in improving the level of traceability and to be transparent in the communication about it.
    • Look at transparency as an opportunity as the industry will move towards this.