Haelixa has been marking Egyptian cotton fabrics for premium shirts with a unique DNA marker. This makes the raw material traceable from the source to the finished textile product.
- The work has been done under the scope of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) initiative 'The Sustainability Pledge', to improve transparency and traceability for sustainable garment and footwear supply chains.
The marker: The DNA marker has been applied as fine spray to GIZA 96 lint cotton in Borg Al Arab, Egypt and used to produce the finest fabric by Swiss manufacturer Weba.
- Once applied to the fibres, Haelixa’s DNA markers stay safely embedded into the material and withstand the industrial processing, ensuring traceability from the source until the finished garment.
- Samples of lint cotton, yarn and fabric at different steps were verified with a test based on PCR, and the correct DNA marker was detected, thereby enabling the identification of the premium product, of its origin and the specific supply chain.
- The forensic data obtained were recorded on a blockchain system provided by UNECE.
- The marked fabric was used to make Hugo Boss cotton dress shirts. As a partner in the UNECE project, Hugo Boss is responsible for a complex global value chain and strives for high sustainability standards and is looking at traceability options.
The background: The UNECE and United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has been developing over the period 2019-2022 policy recommendations, implementation guidelines, a call to action, and a traceability toolbox including blockchain and DNA tracing solutions, which has been implemented in few different textile supply chains.
- Haelixa is part of the group of experts that develops the policy recommendations and conducts projects with key industry players to set traceability benchmarks and later develop them into standards.
- Fashion brands are often responsible for complex global value chains and traceability is the needed tool to enable trust, transparency and credible sustainability.
- The magnitude of the supply chain traceability challenge can be overwhelming for brands, but the UNECE initiative framework facilitates the alignment with suppliers, provides the necessary guidance and the needed tools, with Haelixa as physical traceability provider.
What they said:
Traceability and transparency are crucial elements to protect environmental, social, and human rights along global value chains. At UNECE, we aim to enhance traceability approaches by exploring new and innovative solutions that help identify and address negative impacts in the fashion industry. Therefore, it is only right that we collaborate with Haelixa, and engage in a shared ambition as part of ‘The Sustainability Pledge’. The complementation of UNECE blockchain pilots with Haelixa DNA markers is a great way to substantiate the digital world with the physical reality, and is a right step forward to a sustainable value chain transformation at scale.
— Maria Teresa Pisani
Economic Affairs Officer and Project Lead
In cases like this one, where the material is of the highest quality and the product is shipped from one facility to another for premium processing, adding physical traceability is critical to ensure that the origin, quality and processing claims can be backed up.
— Gediminas Mikutis
CTO and Co-Founder