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The Textile Tracer Assessment



Acronyms and Definition




Enterprise Resource Planning.



Near Field Communication: is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance.1



Polymerase Chain Reaction 2 is a laboratory technique for rapidly producing (amplifying) millions to billions of copies of a specific segment of DNA, which can then be studied in greater detail.



Product Lifecycle Management systems. 


QR Code

Quick Response Code: A type of two dimensional (2D) bar code that is used to provide easy access to online information through the digital camera on a smartphone or tablet. 3



UltraViolet B-ray (UVB) technology.



Vendor Management system.




Certification bodies

Third party organisations carrying out audits to verify criteria defined by a sustainability standard.


Chain of custody

Chain of custody refers to the chronological documentation or paper trail that records the sequence of custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence.4  


Claims made

“Claims’ or “claims made” in this report refer to the information provided by the tracer companies in regard to the enquiry topics. They do not refer to sustainable product claims of certification.


Downstream supply chain/lower in the supply chain

This refers to the lower tiers of the supply chain e.g. Tier one garment producers.


Elemental meddles

Interchangeable with “trace elements”. These are the biochemical elements and isotopes themselves within a fibre and/or material.


Elemental profiling

The process of building a provenance database of biochemical elements and isotopic ratios of a given fibre or material.


Enterprise Resource Planning

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organisations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations.5


Fashion readiness

An indication of the level of maturity and commercial availability a tracer technology has for implementation into the fashion supply chain (from a Fashion for Good perspective).



Fibre types and textile materials are at times referred interchangeably in this report when talking of traceability verification capabilities by tracer technologies. 


Fibre blending6

When different fibre types are merged together at spinning or fabric roll manufacturing stages e.g. cotton with polyester. 


Fibre mixing

When the same fibre types with different grades are merged together at spinning or fabric roll manufacturing stages e.g. virgin cotton with recycled cotton.


Fibre quantification

Quantifying the percentage of certain fibre type present within a mix/blend (fibre quantification).


Geographic origin

Usually refers to the verification of the origin of Tier 4 for natural and animal fibres.


Infrared spectroscopy

Infrared spectroscopy (IR spectroscopy) is the spectroscopy that deals with the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, that is light with a longer wavelength and lower frequency than visible light. It covers a range of techniques, mostly based on absorption spectroscopy.7


Isotopic ratios

Interchangeable with “ratios of stable isotopes”. These are non-radioactive atoms of the same element that contain different numbers of neutrons such as nitrogen, carbon and others.8


Legacy systems

Internal supply chain software systems used by manufacturers, brands, and retailers (e.g. PLM and ERP).


Micro-particle analysis

Referring to the analysis and cross-referencing of stable isotope ratios and trace meddles for a given fibre or material by a tracer company.


Off-site detection

The process of detecting the tracer (for additive tracers), or laboratory micro-particle analysis (for forensic tracers) occurring outside the operations of the supply chain.


On-site detection

The process of detecting the tracer (for additive tracers) or laboratory micro-particle analysis (for forensic tracers) occurring within the operations of the supply chain.


Physical/material verification

Authenticates the presence of certified material in a product.9


Product Life Management

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the strategic process of managing the complete journey of a product from initial ideation, development, service, and disposal. Put another way, PLM means managing everything involved with a product from cradle to grave.10


Provenance database

A record of the biochemical elements and isotopic ratios of a given fibre and/or material. Provenance databases need to be constantly updated by the forensic tracer company to account for changing isotopic ratios and elemental meddles at the origin for the natural fibres in scope of verification.



This refers to the section of the supply chain after the finished product is made and distributed to consumers (after Tier 0).


Site verification9

Verifies that the processes carried out at site conform to operational and/or sustainability criteria defined by the standard.


Substance signatures

Unique properties of tracer substances that allows for the distinction of traceability verification.


Supply chain burden

Imposing additional operational workload on supply chain actors to implement, manage, and maintain tracer technologies. 


Supply chain origin

Usually refers to the verification of origin between Tier 3 – Tier 0 of a given yarn, fabric roll, and product.


Sustainability programmes/standards (Scheme owners)

They can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organisations, and they are used by producers, companies, governments, financial institutions and consumers Examples include Textile Exchange, Global Organic Textile Standard, and Better Cotton Initiative.


The “User”

The “User” refers to an organisation that is implementing the tracer technology in their operations. This can potentially be various fashion ecosystem stakeholders e.g. suppliers, manufacturers, brands, retailers, sustainability programmes, and certification bodies that hold motivations to explore and implement tracer technologies to supplement existing fibre traceability in the textile supply chain.


Tier 4

Raw material extraction.


Tier 3

Spinning facilities.


Tier 2

Fabric manufacturers.


Tier 1

Garment producers.


Tier 0

Brand/retailers distribution warehouses.


Tracer company

Refers to the company that owns and offers the tracer technology. Tracer companies can have many tracer technologies available.


Tracer substance

This refers to the substances that are applied by additive tracers to the fibres and/or materials, and detected later in the supply chain.


Tracer technology

Any additive or forensic technology that serves to authenticate the presence of a specific fibre and/or material in a given product.


Transaction verification9

Verifies that the products and quantity exchanged along the value chain is within the certified scope of each site and reconciles to inventory.


Upperstream supply chain/higher in the supply chain

This refers towards the higher tiers of the supply chain e.g. Tier 4 raw material extraction.



These three terms are used throughout this report interchangeably in reference to traceability verification.