Dutch Awearness, a workwear company based in the Netherlands, has helped develop a system that’s similar to the technology used to track the delivery of a package.
Called Circular Content Management System, or CCMS, the track-and-trace technology was created in collaboration with software provider Improvement IT to allow users to view both the real-time location of a product and every step in the production process.
Designed for manufacturers that want to get started with circular products, the tool provides transparency in the chain so that reuse of materials can be realized.
“The system is made for working in a closed loop, based on our experiences and the mistakes we made. How can the system help us to not make the mistakes anymore? The system is built based on the questions and needs from our chain partners and consumers,” explained Iris van Wanrooij, communications manager at Dutch Awearness, noting that the system took three years to make but 14 years to conceive. “In the end, the system is made according to the lessons learned not only on the front part, but also in the return cycle (re-use, recycling and making a new material of used garments).”
CCMS is based on a batch code, meaning that all chain partners enter data about the product in the system and show what they have added to it. This code is passed to the next producer in the chain who then does the same. A new batch code is created, which is associated with the last one in the series. This creates a chain for that product and a director monitors the entire process, keeping track of the materials so they can be recycled after use.
Once the product is ready to be handed over to an end-user (that is, a consumer), a QR code that’s associated with the batch code is generated and placed on the product. Consumers can scan this QR code to see the story behind the product, with information on its materials, producers and environmental impact.
“There is a great demand from the consumers and governments for transparency throughout the chain. They now have the possibility to look up information about the product on the internet. So they want transparency fast, to see if the product is what they need and to check whether it is good for their body, Fair Trade, etcetera,” van Wanrooij said, noting that this technology can also help protect the environment.
She added, “We need to be careful with shortages of raw materials, therefore we re-use and recycle and for that it is very important to know the information about the products and the chain. You can only communicate that you close the loop when you know what is in the product, what has been made, where is it and how can we manage the flow of products and raw materials.”