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This New Platform Sets Out to Map Cellulosic Supply Chain

With traceability top of mind for supply chains, Control Union Certifications has developed its Connected platform to map supply chains all the way back to raw materials.

Connected, an open platform that allows companies to trace a product’s journey back from finished garment to the fiber source, allows users to acquire a range of key data, from material flows to compliance.

“We all know how complex textile supply chains are and how difficult it is to have their full and continuous visibility,” Franco Costantini, senior manager for supply chain services at Control Union, said. “This is a great achievement, particularly considering that the platform was only launched in September 2017. It is a clear sign of commitment by the industry at large, to transparency and responsible sourcing.”

The system includes traceability features for man-made wood fiber cellulosic materials such as viscose, rayon, modal, lyocell and other trademarked brands. This comes in response to the more than 100 fashion brands looking to meet their CanopyStyle initiative commitments, which include not sourcing from ancient and endangered forests. Connected incorporates compliance targets that pull in the results from environmental nonprofit Canopy Style’s verification audits and “Hot Button” producer rankings.

[Read more about cellulosic fibersHow Environmentally Friendly is Viscose? A New Study Sheds Light]

Connected allows retailers, brand owners and producers to map their supply chains, track materials, monitor compliance efforts and gain access to a variety of supply chain data, from transaction volumes to order lead times.

Several fiber suppliers, including Lenzing Group, Aditya Birla and ENKA International GmbH & Co., have joined Connected. Each producer in the platform is linked to its suppliers or to its clients, and can receive and submit orders and shipments via the platform. Every user also has access to local support centers managed by Control Union in all producing regions.

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“Partnering for systemic change is a key focus area of Lenzing’s sustainability strategy called ‘Naturally Positive.’ Lenzing believes that collaboration and transparency are a prerequisite for improving the sustainability of the textile industry,” said Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer of Lenzing Group. “Therefore Lenzing contributes to the Connected platform to ensure transparency of its fibers and their raw materials’ sustainable origins.”

The platform is expected to help brands reach their traceability and sustainability goals, while producers of raw materials like fibers, can use the platform to drive and monitor the uptake of their sustainable products.

“Connected has addressed an important need of traceability across the value chain by introducing a system bridge from fiber to retail,” said Manohar Samuel, president of marketing at Birla Cellulose. “This is expected to provide visibility to sustainable innovations in fibers and also facilitate integrated solutions to the consumer.”

Till Boldt, managing director of ENKA International, said, “As the textile industry is one of the most fragmented, resource-intensive and least transparent industries in the world, ENKA deeply appreciates and supports initiatives such as Connected which are helping to increase visibility and transparency in our complex textile supply chain. When people are able to trace a product’s journey back, they can easily sort out the sheep from the goats. This is a crucial step on our way to improve the environmental footprint of the textile industry. As a manufacturer of sustainable fibers, ENKA has a long tradition in supporting sustainable fashion solutions.”

Thanks to its combination of simple design, its capacity to capture important supply chain data, and the local support provided to clients globally, Connected has recorded great participation by the entire supply chain. Control Union said that platform continues to grow, with new producers joining daily, and it’s expected to expand significantly during the next few months with the registration of new supply chains and expansion to new materials.

Control Union Certifications, based in the Netherlands with offices in 70 countries, offers a wide range of certification programs for sustainability in agriculture, food, feed, forest products, textiles and bio energy. In the textile sector, Control Union developed the EKO Sustainable Textile Standard to address sustainability and also played an active role in developing the Responsible Down Standard.