Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: The upper of York Athletics' Via All-Terrain shoe is made from recycled ocean-bound plastics | York Athletics
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Brands committed to increasing sustainability by putting ocean plastic to good use deserve the infrastructure and data they need to verify their products and meet the standards that consumers demand.
Imagine consumers perusing the shelves and aisles of a store, being able to
quickly see the exact path the materials took to get into those products. For
recycled ocean plastic
this instantly accessible, comprehensive record of the shore-to-store journey
would give consumers confidence and insight into the history of the item now in
their hands. It would also give brands a more solid foundation to corroborate
the sustainability claims they tout in their marketing and messaging.
For brands incorporating ocean plastic into their sustainability
navigating this relatively new world can be tricky. From procurement to
manufacturing, the focus is traditionally on cost, availability and quality; but
adds a new wrinkle.
Not only do organizations need adequate amounts of appropriate material
delivered on time and at a viable price point, they must also validate the
provenance of their recycled plastic
from deep within their supply chain. To back up their claims, they require
information on the source of their
that enables them to communicate the environmental benefits of this material,
including any CO2 reduction. The current track-and-trace approaches for recycled
plastic create challenges for brands in three primary areas.
Brands historically haven’t worried about where their raw materials come from.
If it meets their needs, arrives on time, and doesn’t cost too much, it hasn’t
mattered who or where a given “ingredient” came from; and it’s rarely part of
their marketing message. But as product sustainability has come to the
forefront, that thinking also must evolve.
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This requires data for every step of the journey — including collection,
aggregation, processing, manufacturing and distribution. However, many plastic
recyclers themselves don’t have the upstream vertical integration to gather this
information for each feedstock, nor the systems in place to track and document
it all. This challenge is exacerbated by the waste pickers and
who often are not required or incentivized to track or submit this type of
Even after the plastic is processed into a commercial resin, brands face
additional potential stumbling blocks as they often employ multiple converters
and manufacturers to produce a finished product. With so many variables, it’s a
struggle for brands to capture the necessary data for the entire supply chain.
Even when individual participants in the supply chain do record all of the
required data related to track-and-trace, it’s often trapped within their
individual systems and not easily available to others in the supply chain. This
is driven by a lack of integrated IT systems — or, in some cases, a lack of an
IT system altogether.
Helping waste collection centers, aggregating organizations,
processors/recyclers, distributors and manufacturers all share their data in
compatible formats is one area where partners such as
Oceanworks are helping to codify the entire ocean
We began by creating a lot-by-lot track-and-trace capability that isn't tied to
any one player in the supply chain. Instead, all data is registered on the
blockchain by all of the different organizations touching the material on its
shore-to-shelf journey. Not only does this add increased visibility, it creates
multiple confirmation checkpoints — ensuring that these programs meet their
desired and stated impact of reducing the overall volume of plastic waste while
reducing carbon footprints.
As ocean plastic winds its way through the process, production yields the weight
of each lot recorded on the chain. This enables monitoring for any unexpected
variations — such as, if a filler such as virgin plastic has been blended into
Comparing weights to established baselines, the system can identify any
anomalies and narrow it down to which stage of the process this occurred. With
data for every stop in the supply
such additives can be transparently disclosed — creating greater confidence in
the composition of the finished product.
Understanding a brand’s full supply chain often incorporates audits of each
stage. However, due to the cost and time involved, these are typically only
conducted periodically and only look at a single snapshot in time. Such annual
reviews are the basis for certification schemes such as Global Recycling
and Zero Plastic Oceans.
While external annual audits serve an important role, this is inadequate for
firms truly invested in maintaining consistency, quality and reliability. As we
know, each lot traverses its own path from the shore to the shelf; and the
details matter. Brands can significantly reduce their risk to both
and product quality with lot-level track and trace.
Oceanworks uses Oracle Fusion Cloud Intelligent Track and
Trace to provide an immutable,
blockchain-based system with data verification from multiple stops along the
supply chain — helping verify each lot from the source’s location of origin and
authenticating the recycled content within. The system also prevents any
organization in the supply chain from falsifying records or otherwise deceiving
brands when it comes to the integrity of its ocean plastic, giving brands
confidence in their messaging and corporate responsibility reporting.
Brands committed to sustainability deserve the infrastructure and data they need
to verify their products and meet the standards that consumers
Don’t settle for haphazard reporting. Look for a lot-level, blockchain-based
track-and-trace solution that eliminates any doubts regarding the origin and
contents of your plastic feedstock.
Learn more about the Oceanworks Guaranteed track-and-trace system to
find out how we can help you Sea Plastic Differently.
Published Feb 24, 2022 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.