The sustainability conversation around textile waste often centers on heaps of consumers’ discarded clothing. But within the supply chain, there are billions of dollars’ worth of unused fabrics, sitting in mills, warehouses and factories, which are typically destined for landfills or incinerators.
New York-based startup Queen of Raw is saving these textiles for new uses through a marketplace that allows sellers and buyers to more easily move materials ranging from Italian wool and leather to cottons and performance fabrics. The increasingly global marketplace allows shoppers to search for materials nearby to their production facilities when possible, cutting back on the environmental impact of shipping textiles with geolocated matchmaking.
Following the success of its business-to-consumer marketplace, Queen of Raw saw a need for a business-to-business solution and created a private portal for large-volume sellers and buyers.
Looking to broker more trust between buyers and sellers, Queen of Raw integrated blockchain technology into its platform to automate some of the verification process, including substantiating supply-chain data.
“Our goal is to provide our customers with frictionless participation in our marketplace,” said co-founder and CEO Stephanie Benedetto, whose family has been in the garment business for more than a century. “For enterprise businesses, the process of manually on-boarding inventory to our marketplace took time. So we built the tools our enterprise community requested to automate the process of on-boarding inventory and vendors by integrating directly with their inventory management systems. This took the on-boarding process from months to minutes.”
Benedetto calls blockchain “the new reality for wholesale and retail.”
Taking this traceability approach a step further, Queen of Raw is looking to help enterprises actively manage their textile waste by leveraging its blockchain and machine-learning technology. The platform allows firms to identify unused fabrics in their supply chains in real-time and automatically allocate them to the Queen of Raw marketplace, monetizing their textile waste.
Beyond the environmental effect of unused materials sitting in a warehouse, there is also an economic impact. According to Queen of Raw, companies could see a 15 percent cost savings on their bottom line if they can connect the dots in their supply chain through technology and use that visibility to reduce waste.
Benedetto, along with co-founder and chief technology officer Phil Derasmo, see the Queen of Raw marketplace as a solution to the world’s water crisis. A yard of fabric takes about 700 gallons of water to produce. If that textile goes to waste, the use of resources that went into making it were all for naught.
“If we do not make a change, by 2025, two-thirds of the entire world’s population will face shortages of freshwater from textile production alone,” Benedetto said. “Queen of Raw has already saved over 1 billion gallons of water while saving businesses millions of dollars with supply chain efficiency. An optimized supply chain is the solution for people, for planet and for profit.”
Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.
See more of our Sustaining Voices honorees and their stories, here.