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Which countries are you active in? How many companies are you working with?
We have users across 24 countries across the globe. The brands are predominantly from Europe-Nordics, Germany, France being the key areas, while the manufacturer base is spread across India, China, Italy, Portugal, Taiwan, Korea, Turkey, etc. Currently, we work with 25 brands and about 1,900 suppliers.
Which stages in supply chain from procuring raw material to recycling waste need the most environment friendly alternatives?
We see that different stages of production and consumption have different impacts on the environment and it would be very difficult and incorrect to single out just one action/ stage of production as the one that needs most improvement. Given the current state of our planet, we need alternatives in all stages of the supply chain, and we need them quick. From a simplified perspective though, the way we can create a maximum positive impact is if we can reduce consumption by switching to long-lasting sustainable products. The next step would be to decrease the waste in our supply chains, our closets and decrease our left-over stocks. If we can extend the life of garments, regenerate fibre from old garments and move towards a real-circular model right from design to production to consumption, we can address the environmental impact to a great extent.
What are the main challenges that manufacturers and companies encounter?
The basic challenge is the size of the supply chain. Unlike the other industries, there are lot of raw materials used and lot of processes that are carried out before a garment is delivered in the hands of the customer. Tracking, monitoring and implementing any change to the supply chain is slightly difficult. Sometimes suppliers will have to provide information and since they belong to developing nations, it is slightly difficult for them to provide data on software platforms. They also think of it as a time-consuming process and do not see a face value in the work they do.
What parameters are set to calculate transparency, ethical trading, sustainability, and circularity?
We collect information about the "product" as well as the "facility" in which it was produced. Depending upon the need of the user, the information collected varies. However, the predominant information collected is the summary of various raw materials, source or supplier of these various raw materials used in the production of a garment or fabric. We also collect how the production happens to understand the process behind the product as well. Whenever there is a certified product claim, we collect the relevant certificates from the value chain-like GOTS transaction certificate for organic, GRS for recycled products, RWS for wool products etc.
At a facility level, we record:
Audits, the score of the audits,
non-conformities and help implement and track a continuous action plan
Facility certificates, their expiry dates and help brands and suppliers manage that effectively
Social and environmental data points like gender diversity, compliance to living wage / fair wage, EHS implementation, water usage, energy usage, emissions etc.
We track special / innovative projects implemented at factories and highlight those to the brands such as innovative dyeing techniques, social programmes, carbon positive initiatives, etc.
What are the biggest issues in making the textile supply chain transparent?
Although many brands are very keen on making the supply chain transparent, not all the suppliers see a monetary value in sharing the supply chain information with the brands. Supply chain traceability is seen as an action that adds to the overhead without any immediate returns to the suppliers. We believe this is because the current ways to managing and sharing data with brands can be difficult for suppliers and that is where we think automation and digital solutions can play a huge role. With increasing demand for the brands with traceability in terms of government regulation in Europe, it's a matter of time the manufacturers are mandated to share the information.
What new solutions do you plan to come up with in future?
Our vision is to provide a single-stop solution for brands, suppliers and other ecosystem players in the area of sustainability, circularity, traceability. While our solution has been stable and delivering consistent results in the area of traceability, we look to improve our offerings in other areas. We have collaborated with key partners like Position Green, Circular Fashion to provide Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions tracking and circular design guidelines. We are also working with recyclers, sorters, etc to increase the efficiency of take back programmes and other circular models.
This interview was first published in the November 2019 edition of the print magazine.
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