Dutch-based multi-stakeholder initiative 'Denim Deal' plans to boost traceability of its members' denim garments using Aware blockchain technology developed by startup The Movement.

Denim Deal is an international network of 30 parties from the denim industry and government institutions working towards a circular denim industry. Its goal is to incorporate at least 5% recycled textiles into every pair of jeans. As a first step, three million pairs of jeans are now being made by well-known denim brands, 20% of which are made of recycled cotton.

Currently less than 1% of end-of-life textiles are recycled – mainly through downcycling. Because the clothing industry keeps using new raw materials, the sector's ecological footprint is enormous. Using just 20% post-consumer recycled (PCR) cotton can save up to 750 litres of water per pair of jeans, Denim Deal says.

Aware's traceability technology applies tracer particles to the raw recycled cotton and then uses blockchain to guarantee that the original recycled feedstock was used in the final product.

"Traceability is not only essential for the industry to achieving environmental impact targets, and prevent greenwashing, but also a crucial ingredient towards a circular fashion system," says Feico van der Veen, founder, and CEO of Aware.

"Our technology makes recycled cotton traceable, the first in the world. And that is important, as there is a growing demand for and pressure on cotton due to fast fashion and our current linear economic model. Cotton cultivation causes negative environmental impacts. Recycled cotton has the biggest opportunity for scaling and environmental impact in the short and medium-term.

"Working together with international leaders from within the denim supply chain to accelerate towards a circular fashion system, gives us the opportunity to create even more impact by increasing the use of recycled materials and saving water at the same time."