Aware says by offering validation, transparency and verification, this hybrid technology can work to eliminate greenwashing and establish more trust in the textiles industry.

Aware says by offering validation, transparency and verification, this hybrid technology can work to eliminate greenwashing and establish more trust in the textiles industry.

A Dutch startup has developed a new technology that uses tracer particles and blockchain to guarantee that the recycled cotton that enters the supply chain is the same that comes out as apparel. 

According to The Movement, which develops sustainable solutions for the textile industry, its new Aware technology could help establish more trust in the textile industry by offering validation, transparency, and verification.

The process begins with a global network of carefully selected partner spinners who add the patented tracer material into the original recycled feedstock. A virtual representation of the yarn/fibre is then created as a digital token which includes all relevant information (certification that it's recycled, yarn/fibre specifications, etc) and is stored on decentralised and open-source blockchain.

The yarn then enters production in a company's supply chain that they themselves have established as compliant. At the very end of the chain, the final product will be scanned by a hand scanner to confirm it's made from the original certified recycled materials.

This confirmation is then linked to the related digital token stored on the blockchain, the original purchase order and the Aware Certificate of Authenticity. All this information is then transferred to the digital wallet of the retailer or brand, complete with an easy-to-understand blockchain interface documenting all environmental impact savings.

"There's a real pressure for change: to make sustainability actually mean something," says Feico Van der Veen,  founder and director of The Movement. "Everyone realises that 'sustainability'' is a term that, if not fully empty, is at least vague. Brands and retailers now recognise we need to be measuring impact reduction – in terms of water use, energy, waste, CO2 and all the rest.

"People are finally talking in more concrete terms: transparency, traceability, validation and verification. The buying departments have finally fully caught up to the strategic departments. It's time for action."

Van der Veen adds while the long-term goal is for consumers to be able to scan their clothes, for now, he is keeping the message simple.

"Let's validate and verify recycled cotton. And of course, the same technology can be applied to any other, such as hemp, viscose, lyocell bamboo, recycled polyester, and recycled nylon. What industry can't benefit from validated in, validated out?"