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Tracking Certified Materials

Brands and retailers are increasingly being held accountable for what happens throughout the value chain. The ability to map the materials value chain is not only critical for due diligence but core to tracking progress towards Textile Exchange Climate+ strategic direction and the Sustainable Development Goals. While the majority of the top 100 apparel brands have sustainable material targets in place, according to a 2019 UNECE study, only about 34% of companies track and trace their value chains, of which half have visibility only up to their immediate suppliers.

Textile Exchange Trackit is our response to this call to action – a formative program for improved integrity, traceability, and efficiency of sustainable material provenance.

The role of sustainability standards in traceability

Standards provide the industry with a way to verify sustainability claims of a product. In general, there are three levels of verification:
  • Site level: Verifies that the processes carried out at site conform to operational and/or sustainability criteria defined by the standard.
  • Transaction level: Verifies that the products and quantity exchanged along the value chain is within the certified scope of each site and reconciles to inventory.
  • Physical material level: Authenticates the presence of certified material in a product.
Credible traceability requires the interplay of verification at site, transaction, and physical material levels. What is traced, how it is traced, and the assurance levels very much depend on the chain of custody and requirements of the standard.

Trackit - Textile Exchange’s traceability program

Textile Exchange standards cover third-party certification at site and transaction level. As different certification bodies operate in different regions, traceability is disaggregated across certification bodies which makes value chain mapping a challenge. The Trackit program is being developed to address these challenges and support the traceability needs for Textile Exchange standards.
The Trackit program offers two traceability paths:
  1. Digital Trackit “dTrackit” forms the traceability baseline for the existing certification process of all Textile Exchange standards. Traceability in dTrackit is achieved by centralizing and connecting scope and transaction certification data stored by certification bodies.
  2. Electronic Trackit “eTrackit” is an alternative for companies wanting more granular traceability using innovative technologies. It takes the traceability of Textile Exchange standards one step further by tracking the volume of certified material of each product (rather than the entire transaction) entirely online via tokens (think eBanking). Traceability is achieved by tracking these tokens at an article level in a central platform which certification bodies access for verification and approval. Physical material verification may be integrated and reconciled with data along the chain for additional assurance.
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SC: Scope Certificate, TC: Transaction Certificate
CB: Certification Body, CO: Certified Organization, TE: Textile Exchange
Got a question? Want to get involved? Please contact Trackit@TextileExchange.org.