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Haelixa Makes Egyptian Cotton Product Traceable

Swiss company Haelixa can now trace Egyptian cotton from the source up to premium shirts through a DNA marker it developed to label the raw material “premium Egyptian cotton.”

Haelixa’s DNA marker has been applied as fine spray to GIZA 96 lint cotton in Borg Al Arab, Egypt, and used to produce the fabric by Swiss manufacturer Weba. Once applied to the fibers, Haelixa’s DNA markers stay safely embedded into the material and withstand the industrial processing, ensuring traceability from the source until the finished garment.

Samples of lint cotton, yarn and fabric at different steps were verified with a test based on PCR and the correct DNA marker was detected, enabling the identification of the premium product, of its origin and the specific supply chain.

The forensic data obtained were recorded on a blockchain system provided by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, better known as UNECE. The marked fabric was used to make Hugo Boss cotton dress shirts.

“In cases like this one, where the material is of the highest quality and the product is shipped from one facility to another for premium processing, adding physical traceability is critical to ensure that the origin, quality and processing claims can be backed up,” said Gediminas Mikutis, chief technology officer and co-founder at Haelixa.

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The UNECE and United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) have been developing policy recommendations, implementation guidelines, a call to action and a traceability toolbox including blockchain and DNA tracing solutions that have been implemented in several textile supply chains. Haelixa is part of a group of experts that develops such policy recommendations and conducts projects with key industry players to set traceability benchmarks and develop them into standards.

“Traceability and transparency are crucial elements to protect environmental, social and human rights along global value chains,” Maria Teresa Pisani, economic affairs officer and project lead at UNECE, said. “At UNECE, we aim to enhance traceability approaches by exploring new and innovative solutions that help identify and address negative impacts in the fashion industry. Therefore, it is only right that we collaborate with Haelixa, and engage in a shared ambition as part of The Sustainability Pledge. The complementation of UNECE blockchain pilots with Haelixa DNA markers is a great way to substantiate the digital world with the physical reality and is a right step forward to a sustainable value chain transformation at scale.”

Haelixa Ltd. is a Swiss company that drives development and commercialization of disruptive product traceability solutions to ensure reliable supply-chain traceability, with a special focus on textile materials and precious minerals. Haelixa technology is based on forensic DNA markers, which are physically applied to the raw material and stay linked to it, providing a unique traceable identity from the source.