Blockchain for more circular and a sustainable future?


Every year we spend a considerable amount of money in shopping clothes. At the end of the year, our financial records might give us an idea of the amount of money we spent on clothes. Do we have a track of the kind of impact these clothes make on the environment? How about a trustable secure record of the environmental footprint we leave?

America and the European Union alone generate 32 million tonnes of textile waste every year, which is sent to landfills and incinerators. The short lifespan of garments (global average of 3 years) is a significant contributing factor to such huge waste generation. Estimates suggest by extending the lifespan by a mere 6 months, the carbon footprint generated can be decreased by 10%.

If extending the lifespan of clothes could do such wonders, imagine the kind of effect that would be created by recycling, reusing, renting and repairing these clothes. There has been very little of the 4R’s that happen in the industry, when the fact is that almost 100% of the clothes are recyclable, repairable, rentable and reusable.

This makes huge economic sense to Brands, Consumer and Suppliers. According to the World Resources Institute, 57 percent of cotton is grown in areas with high to extremely high levels of water stress. Moreover, given that it takes roughly 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton, the crop is susceptible to shifting weather patterns and droughts, while also contributing to increased water scarcity.

If the Fashion value chain continues to use resources such as Cotton the same way, the cost of product will go up. A large Fashion Brand concluded that an increase of $0.01 per pound in cotton prices would influence the cost of sales by $3 million at 2017 production levels. This way of Fashion consumption is unsustainable when some 1.8 billion people are expected to join the global consuming class by 2025, a 75 percent increase over 2010 (‘Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class’, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2012)

Significant change is needed from consumers, Brands, suppliers and other regulatory bodies to make the fashion industry more circular.

Blockchain as a technology holds tremendous potential in making this change easier for all the people involved. By enabling various brands and suppliers to collect, manage and approve the single version of TRUTH about the sustainability footprint of the product across the value chain. The technology enables users to make informed choices. Some of the potential use cases are

Designers get access to the unit level sustainability footprint when designing a product – accurate LCA (based on actual production sites) helps better design from a sustainability perspective

Brands can ascertain the sustainability footprint of the facility and every product across the entire value chain, helping to move towards a more circular supply chain

Suppliers can measure, manage and communicate the sustainability footprint on various aspects and take corrective action easily.

Consumers can get access to “THEIR SUSTAINABILITY FOOTPRINT” and at a scan of the product understand the impact of their purchase

The whole process of collecting and authenticating the inputs from the highly diverse, geographically distributed suppliers to calculate the footprint has been a huge challenge for the industry. We have been able to leverage the power of distributed ledger in obtaining a single trustable record of the sustainability footprint of various products and in-turn a sustainability record of brands, suppliers and consumers.

We are currently executing a LARGE-SCALE PROGRAM aimed at measuring and improving the sustainability footprint of a product with suppliers across three continents. Watch this space for more updates from this initiative. To know more write to or request for a demo

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