Waste2Wear, a Shanghai-based company that recycles post-consumer plastic into textiles, has unveiled what it calls the world’s first line of ocean-plastic-derived fabrics that is completely traceable using blockchain technology.
A beta version of the Ocean Fabrics range, which debuts at Première Vision in Paris this week, marks a milestone for the transparency of the recycled-textile supply chain, Waste2Wear says.
Blockchain is a type of digital database that has gained favor among transparency advocates because of its decentralized nature, meaning there is no one owner of the information contained within a “chain.” As a ledger, it’s designed to be tamper-proof. Blocks of information cannot be edited or deleted without leaving behind a “scar” as a signpost that alterations have been made.
“We believe there should be no doubt about the origin of our fabrics, and we wanted to ensure that our Ocean Fabrics are traceable to its source,” Monique Maissan, founder and CEO of Waste2Wear, told Sourcing Journal. “Therefore, together with experts, we developed the Waste2Wear blockchain.”
The blockchain allows Waste2Wear to track the finished textile product “all the way back to [its] source”: the pickers who scoop up the plastic waste. The plastic used for Ocean Fabrics, Maissan notes, originates from the coastal regions of China, where many fishermen have lost jobs as a result of fishing bans in the Yangtze River.
Waste2Wear, with the help of local officials and the nonprofit Narwhal Ocean Center, was able to employ former fishermen to reclaim more than three tons of plastic waste from the ocean, coasts and surrounding waterways every week. The strategy, the company says, not only benefits the planet but its people, too.
“The Ocean Fabrics collection was inspired by the need to reduce plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, while improving the livelihoods of the fishermen and waste pickers that are helping us in this mission,” Maissan said.
All orders for the Ocean Fabrics made at and after Première Vision will be delivered using the Waste2Wear blockchain, she added.
Scientists estimate that roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic pour into the oceans every year. The fashion industry has seized upon ocean waste as both a resource and corporate-responsibility opportunity. Sportswear giant Adidas was one of the first to mass-produce shoes derived from marine waste, but others, including Ecoalf and, most recently Sperry, have followed suit. Ocean plastic has also reared its head in other categories, most notably denim by G-Star Raw, lingerie from Stella McCartney and swimwear by Reformation.