¨Textile Tracker¨ a pilot project to identify the origen of cotton

by Vanessa Guzek

The German pilot project that started yesterday, aims to identify the origin of cotton through fabric samples.  It success  could mean a breakthrough towards greater transparency in the supply chain in the textile industry.

The organic cotton manufacturer Cotonea is collaborating with the Research Institute for Textiles and Clothing Research at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, the laboratories of Agroisolab GmbH and the environmental protection organization WWF Germany. The pilot project “Textile Tracker” is funded by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt).

To identify the origin of the cotton, the isotopes of the cotton samples will be specifically analyzed in the laboratory. The initiators of the project want to investigate whether the chemical characteristics of the isotopes, i.e. a certain type of atoms, allow conclusions to be drawn about the method and region of cultivation as well as the nature of the soil. These are atomic species whose nuclei contain the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons.

Cotonea is one of the organic cotton manufacturers providing cotton samples for the laboratory project from its fair trade farming projects in Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. Founded in 2003 and owned by the traditional company Gebr. Elmer & Zweifel, the brand is personally familiar with all stages of its production chain, from cultivation, ginning and fiber production and spinning, to yarn finishing, surface forming, weaving and knitting, through surface finishing to ready-made garments.

For the analysis, cotton fabric mill Cotonea is providing cotton samples from Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. According to the manufacturers of Contena, the materials from the Swabian textile brand were particularly suitable for the first phase of the project, because they have been working with the same farmers from their own cultivation projects for years and can therefore provide samples from four different crop years that are pure in origin.

Starting with the cotton flock, the experts want to simulate various processing stages in the laboratory. The first results are expected by the end of the year.



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