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AWI to undertake blockchain wool traceability project

Sheep Central, January 25, 2021

AWI chief of operations John Roberts: Everledger project will inform AWI about the applicability of blockchain technology.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation will collaborate with English digital transparency company Everledger to trial a blockchain system for tracing wool chain of custody from farms to consumers.

Everledger and AWI announced the strategic collaboration today, aiming to capture asset information along the wool supply chain in order to enable provenance and chain of custody verification using blockchain technology.

In line with its push to promote traceability in support of the Australian wool industry, AWI said 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.

AWI said the ECCT will initially 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 provide more confidence on the authenticity and provenance of the wool product, the levy-funded marketing, research and development company said.

The system meant a retailer or end consumer could verify where and when in Australia the original wool was sourced, AWI said. Different participants at each stage of the supply chain will be able to connect through standardised 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.

AWI’s chief operation officer John Roberts said running the proof of concept initiative will inform the organisation 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.

“Our organisation 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,” he said.

“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,” he said.

“Ultimately, this is good news for our farmers and related small businesses that rely on these remarkable sheep to make a living.”

Everledger’s head of Australia & New Zealand Peter Hughes said the company was “delighted to partner with such an important institution in the country and support 22,000 wool growers with state-of-the-art technology.”

Everledger chief executive officer 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.

“It brings me incredible joy to be able to bridge these two worlds that on the surface seem to be so distant: wool production and technology, interwoven by fashion.”

Ms Kemp said 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.

“AWI is taking a lead for other traditional industries in Australia to follow.

“We’re delighted to design and manage a solution that will help AWI to deliver a more transparent value chain,” she said.

“By sharing provenance information securely – from farm to consumer – all participants can enjoy the benefits of traceability.”

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