Novel Solutions for Novel Times - Blockchain and Sustainability
The fourth and final episode from the “Novel Solutions for Novel Times” webinar series, focusing around blockchain and sustainability in the global supply chain.
Antony Welfare - Managing Director of Blockchain Practice @ DXC Technology
Geri Cupi - Co-Founder and CEO @ MonoChain
Nikhil Vadgama - Deputy Director @ UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies
Peter Bambridge – Global Director, Retail and Consumer Goods @ Oracle
Key takeaways from the panel:
During lockdown, economic activity was significantly lower, leading to a massive reduction in pollution levels globally.
The digitalisation of the supply chain has the power to transform the landscape of many industries.
Consumers have demonstrated a greater demand for sustainability the previous months. Provenance is in the spotlight to ensure transparent material origins and ethical practices.
Apart from traceability, a new consumer concern is item disposability - how an item can be disposed of, the waste it may create etc.
In the short run, fast fashion will likely remain a core part of many consumers’ wardrobe. However, this may change with consumers considering the whole lifecycle of an item - beyond its initial ownership. A return towards high quality and long-lasting pieces may be witnessed, alongside recommerce and rental models.
Recommerce and rental are a viable option for consumers wishing to extend an item’s lifecycle, while minimising their footprint.
Gen Z are aware of the benefits of resale, and hence tend to check an item’s price in the secondary market before committing to its purchase.
Improving supply chain sustainability depends on 4 pillars, driven by technology:
Improvements in transparency (authenticity, provenance)
Reduction of waste
Minimisation of overproduction through errors in planning
Increased efficiency in transport
Blockchain and IoT can play a significant role in supply chain transparency improvements.
AI can help with reductions of waste and optimised production levels.
Increased transportation efficiency can be driven by AI and blockchain.
Increasing environmental regulations in China are pushing fashion manufacturers towards Africa, where they can reduce regulatory compliance costs. This may negatively affect brands, if consumers place importance on provenance and ethical supply chain practices.
Consumer goods are in the spotlight: with concerns around deforestation and waste, consumers are demanding more sustainability in agricultural and packaging practices.
According to an Ellen McArthur Foundation and McKinsey report, $460B worth of items in very good condition are being thrown away every year. Even if half of those items were given a second life through recycling, upcycling, downcycling or resale, the environmental impact would be massive.
The halting of manufacturing has created severe economic effects in major production hubs, such as Bangladesh, negatively impacting workers.
Blockchain applications can facilitate demand forecasting, and authenticity and provenance.