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AWI, Everledger Book Blockchain to Trace Wool Supply Chains

The Australian wool industry hopes to be able to trace the lifetime journey of authentic wool products, thanks to a new partnership with a specialist in provenance technology.

Everledger, a digital transparency company, and the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the parent organization for The Woolmark Co., have formed a strategic collaboration to capture asset information along the wool supply chain to enable provenance and chain of custody verification using blockchain technology.

In line with AWI’s push to promote traceability in support of the Australian wool industry, Everledger will build and host an Electronic Chain of Custody Tool (ECCT) on its platform. The aim is to track and validate the exchange of ownership of selected wools as they move up the supply chain from farm to overseas processing and through to finished products.

Merino sheep are known for producing the world’s finest and softest wool. Australia produces around 90 percent of the world’s fine apparel wool and contributes significantly to the Australian economy.

In this initial stage, ECCT will act as a proof of concept, tracing the journey of wool from farm to the end consumer by identifying and capturing the necessary documentation at each stage of the value chain. The ECCT will demonstrate sustainability and compliance best practices and enhance confidence on the authenticity and provenance of the wool product. It means a retailer or end consumer could verify where and when in Australia the original wool was sourced.

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Different participants at each stage of the supply chain will be able to connect through standardized data, in line with best practices for the apparel industry. Recorded evidence can be used to demonstrate compliance, while participants can also explore additional technologies to enhance material and chain of custody integrity.

John Roberts, chief operations officer at AWI, said running the proof of concept initiative will inform the organization about the applicability of blockchain technology to showcase and gauge industry appetite.

“A proof of concept will allow a more prudent use of growers funds, as from the project findings we will then determine whether we will invest in a full platform or look to participate in an alternative,” Roberts said. “Our organization and stakeholders have been monitoring the rapid escalation in emphasis being placed on provenance, corporate social responsibility, and the perennial concerns regarding supply chain efficiency and biosecurity. Traceability and transparency are critical for safeguarding the global reputation of Australian wool. This partnership with Everledger will help us to ease the flow of information up and down the supply chain to all parties, and so communicate wool’s benefits to a wider audience.”

Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp said AWI’s values of transparent provenance and fair social and environmental impact in fashion are ideals supported “wholeheartedly at Everledger. In fact, this is the core of what we do.”

“Blockchain combined with other technologies can generate significant economic value to a range of sectors in Australia, contributing an estimated global annual business value of over $175 billion by 2025,” Kemp added. “We’re delighted to design and manage a solution that will help AWI to deliver a more transparent value chain. By sharing provenance information securely–from farm to consumer–all participants can enjoy the benefits of traceability.”

Founded in 2015, Everledger is an independent technology company helping businesses surface and converge asset information, using a symphony of secure technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, intelligent labelling and Internet of Things. Everledger is certified with the ISO 27001 standard by the British Assessment Bureau. Everledger was awarded a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2018.