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Applied DNA Enables Fully Traceable DNA-Tagged Leather Supply Chain at Asian Tannery

In 2018, Applied DNA Sciences announced that it was one step closer to creating fully traceable supply chains for leather goods—this year, it appears the tech company’s hard work has paid off.

On Tuesday, Applied DNA said it had successfully implemented DNA tagging into one of the world’s leather largest tanneries, located in Asia. With its CertainT cellulose-tracing technology, the company said it can trace the hide of an animal “from a farm to the product in a store.”

Last year, Applied DNA entered into a partnership with the Eurofins BLC Leather Technology Center in the United Kingdom, work that Dr. James Hayward, president and CEO of Applied DNA, said was integral to the implementation of the tech in Asia.

“The results are validation of previous work we carried out and we now look forward to the opportunity to apply our technology for the leather industry to help provide much-needed traceability for the various stakeholders,” Hayward said. “We are pleased by the interest shown across the leather industry in offering to leather supply chains.”

After the completion of its partnership with Eurofins BLC, Applied DNA’s team in the U.K. continued to visit commercial tanneries to further sophisticate the process of applying the company’s DNA-tracing technology.

Applied DNA also has experience with utilizing DNA tracing in the cotton supply chain, most recently forging an agreement to tag Californian cotton for the 2019-2020 ginning season.

The next step was to apply the same principles to leather supply chains, which would likely benefit from an added element of traceability as the agriculture and leather industries have faced increased scrutiny in an era of sustainability.

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“We believe our research identified the most efficient and cost-effective methods to apply DNA at specific points in the leather-tanning process map,” the company explained.

For the Asian tannery, Applied DNA put CertainT to work tagging and then tracing suede and polyurethane leather at checkpoints along the leather-tanning supply chain. On Nov. 13, it will be taking the lessons learned from that process to Tapestry headquarters in New York City, where Applied DNA’s vice president of textiles, MeiLin Wan, will speak at the Leather Compliance and Sustainability conference in collaboration with Eurofins BLC.

The CertainT system works by marking leather obtained at the beginning of the supply chain with a molecular-level DNA tag, which can then be used to identify and protect leather products for the brands that wish to combat counterfeits and dishonest suppliers.

In October, CertainT was expanded to include cellulosic fibers in order to establish a lead in traceability for a market that could be worth $34 billion by 2024. Applied DNA’s technology has been tentatively approved for a patent.