Care begins with cotton: Cotonea's organic cultivation project in Kyrgyzstan. © COTONEA / Klaus Mellenthin
The first phase of the joint project between IBM, Kaya&Kato and Cotonea with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has been completed. Textile manufacturer Cotonea is providing content expertise for the development of the blockchain-based platform Textile Trust. The aim is to ensure security and transparency in textile supply chains.
Blockchain technology makes it possible to divide a chain of transactions (chain) into sections (blocks), fill them with content and record them chronologically. In the case of the textile supply chain, the Textile Trust platform stores information about production processes that cannot be falsified or changed. Authorised persons can then access the original content.
There are almost always different parties responsible for each stage of production in the textile sector - from growing the cotton to making up the product. This is one of the things that makes it so complicated, if not impossible, to trace the production chain of a textile article in retrospect. For this reason, textile manufacturer Cotonea, which has been committed to consistently fair and environmentally friendly production of cotton textiles since 2003, consults as a partner in the development of Textile Trust:
"We are responsible for all production steps and know both the concerns of the farmer from our cultivation project in Uganda and the pitfalls of blending the cotton fibres. We know both about the wishes of our seamstresses in the Czech Republic and about additives in dyeing," explains Cotonea Managing Director Roland Stelzer.
"A project like Textile Trust has to involve all stages of the textile chain. The know-how either comes from several contributors who represent their respective, already complex production steps and have to build a common understanding. An ambitious task. Or the content is provided by one of the few overarching producers of organic cotton textiles like Cotonea, who also knows the interfaces."
Textile Trust App @Kaya&Kato
In the first development phase, which included a workshop and several hours of coordination per week, Stelzer and his team contributed this knowledge and were able to assess and optimise ideas as more or less realistic.
The final version of Textile Trust will include a browser interface and an app that will allow those involved in a production to transmit their data in a forgery-proof way. The system includes all important parameters such as production standards and certificates. It thus helps to achieve transparency in the flow of materials and simplifies administrative processes and certifications. The blockchain application makes it possible to make information visible to end customers and use it for communication without any additional effort.
"At Cotonea, we see trustworthiness - trust - as one of the most important values," Stelzer points out. "There is a growing demand for environmentally friendly products whose production is done in a fair way and for the benefit of all parties involved. This makes falsification of certificates, greenwashing or simply omitting facts more and more attractive. It is imperative to counteract the trend with watertight tracking systems like Textile Trust."
It took eight weeks to develop a demo version (Minimum Viable Product) with selected basic functions. Now the phase of refinement begins, to which other partners from the textile industry are contributing in addition to those already involved. The goal is to have Textile Trust ready for the market by the end of 2022. Interested companies can contact Kaya&Kato, IBM and Cotonea.