A traceable supply chain is becoming the marker of companies serious about sustainability.
Cone Denim traces its cotton with Oritain’s auditing methods combining forensic science and statistics. Meanwhile, brands like Reformation and 7 For All Mankind are turning to FibreTrace’s technology that embeds traceable, scannable pigments directly into the fabric of their jeans.
But with circularity gaining importance, mills are seeking solutions to trace recycled fibers. Vertically integrated denim manufacturer Soorty recently teamed with Swiss technology company Haelixa Ltd. to trace and support claims related to the recycled cotton used in its denim products.
Haelixa’s DNA marker allows tracing from virgin or recycled fiber to finished garment. The marker is solved in liquid and then applied to textile waste before mechanical recycling takes place in the spinning mill in Pakistan. Spot checks are made with the intermediate products and the final garment are tested to prove that the product indeed contains the recycled cotton.
The test is based on “highly scalable [post-consumer recycled] technology” that Haelixa says is “100 percent reliable and has forensic validity.”
“With recycling becoming a major trend, there is also an alarming number of unsubstantiated claims related to the use of recycled fiber in garments,” said Michela Puddu, Haelixa co-founder and CEO. “To differentiate and re-build consumer trust more and more manufacturers and brands use markers to be able to authenticate recycled fibers in the final garment.”
Haelixa previously collaborated with vertical denim manufacturer Diamond Denim to promote transparency. In the first joint project, cotton fiber was marked after bale opening in the Diamond factory in Lahore, Pakistan. The read out, conducted in the Haelixa labs in Switzerland, was done with the garment after several household washings, as well as with different intermediate products from various production stages.
Recycling is a major pillar of Soorty’s sustainability strategy. Approximately 23 percent of its products contained recycled content. A new waste segregation system is expected to help the mill increase its recycled cotton content by another 10 percent. “With the emerging concerns for environment, Soorty as a responsible stakeholder of society has pledged to make its manufacturing process more sustainable, transparent and traceable,” said Mansoor Bilal, Soorty VP of marketing research and innovation.
Soorty clients will be offered the use of Haelixa’s “Marked & Traced by Haelixa” label for garments, informing the end consumer about their supply chain transparency efforts. The label can include a QR code linking to a dedicated landing page, where brands can bring their product story to life and enable customers to access supply chain and product verification data.
Being able to prove its claims is crucial for the company as it establishes itself as a leader in sustainable denim through collections like a zero-stone washed jeans and projects such as the Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI), bringing organic farming practices and a better way of life to farmers in Pakistan’s Balochistan region.
Last year, Soorty linked with Green Story, a supply chain sustainability analysis platform, for an extensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of two garments with differentiated raw materials and garment processes. The platform uses LCA methodology with data sourced from accredited partners to measure the impact of production processes. Green Story ties them together with easy-to-understand visuals to enhance the customer experience and highlight Soorty’s green choices.