Global initiatives Fashion for Good and Textile Exchange have released the ‘Textile Tracer Assessment’ – a detailed guide of physical tracer technologies applicable to the textile supply chain.

The guide, launched today (26 July), assesses promising physical tracer technologies applicable for improving traceability verification in the textile industry. It comes amid the increasing importance placed on fibre provenance, authenticity and production.

The assessment provides fashion ecosystem stakeholders with an overview to evaluate and determine which tracer technologies would best suit their sustainability and operational needs.

“The Textile Tracer Assessment provides much needed analysis and guidance to the textile industry players seeking clarity and direction to better understand and implement physical tracing technologies in their supply chains. This is only the beginning of this collaborative project, as more technologies mature and improved capabilities are added, it will provide the industry with an indispensable tool for traceability implementation,” says Katrin Ley, managing director at Fashion for Good.

The Textile Tracer Assessment has been designed as a tool for stakeholders across the supply chain from suppliers, to brands, to certification bodies.

Benchmarking key technologies

Tracer technologies are solutions that analyse the microparticle composition of fibres, materials, and finished products (forensic tracers), or apply tracer substances at a certain point in the supply chain, to be detected later to verify origin (additive tracers).

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The forensic tracer category includes isotope/elemental profiling tracers and DNA analysis tracers. The additive tracer category includes synthetic/artificial DNA tracers, ink/rare earth fluorescent tracers, and optical fingerprints (watermarks and prints).

“Tracer technologies play an important role in connecting the forensic verified physical material to existing digital chain of custody,” adds Evonne Tan, data and technology director at Textile Exchange. “With the proliferation of innovations in this space, we are excited to provide the Textile Tracer Assessment as a starting guide to standards, suppliers and brands wanting to better understand this landscape. We look forward to the continued alignment and collaboration with technologies to strengthen material provenance and traceability in certified supply chains.”

Strengthening verification in the supply chain

Current chain-of-custody processes fall short in physical/material authentications, which may lead to false claims and the sourcing of fibres and materials with unchecked environmental risks. This report is designed to address the key challenges in both categories of tracer technologies, as well as how and where best they can be applied to strengthen chain-of-custody models and fibre/material integrity.

The Textile Tracer Assessment is expected to continue to expand – Fashion for Good and Textile Exchange are calling all tracer technologies related to the textile industry to join the Textile Tracer Assessment so that new and existing technologies and capabilities can be updated and showcased industry wide.

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