Transparent Supply Chains are essential to help stem the Biodiversity Crisis

Consumers need a way to analyse the provenance and environmental impact of the product in their hands before every link in the chain can be held accountable.
5 mins read

The world is facing an unprecedented number of crises as climate change, COVID-19, famine, and conflict threaten our very existence. Such is the urgency of climate change, the personal impact of COVID-19 and the tragedy of famine that it is easy to overlook another crisis that has been slowly developing for over a century. 


A recent report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that 90% of biodiversity loss directly results from our manufacturing processes and consumer trends. Our current farming methods are unsustainable, and along with mining and deforestation, they have massively impacted our already fragile ecosystems. 


Unless we change the way we create and supply food to slow biodiversity loss, our ability to sustain the world's population will be threatened. 


The Biodiversity Crisis

It is predicted that if we continue on our current trajectory, between one third and one-half of all species will face extinction by the end of this century. Scientists fear a knock-on effect, where the disappearance of these species will upend ecosystems and destabilize human civilization.


Take, for example, the humble Honey Bee in the United States; among crops that require bee pollination, the number of bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 per cent since 1962. There are many reported causes for the decline of the bee. However, it is undeniable that the most significant impact on their population is from pesticides and loss of habitat due to farming. 


Beekeepers are doing their best to sustain colonies. Unfortunately, however, this is not enough and interventions like banning harmful pesticides and introducing ecological agriculture are urgently required. Bees are responsible for the pollination of most food crops, and their loss will be catastrophic not only for conservation but also for food production. 


What's causing species die-off?

Habitat destruction is the biggest driver for species die-off. Industries that rely on resource extraction transform areas rich in biodiversity, like rainforests, to make space for farms, factories, and mining sites.


Overutilization - the use of natural resources faster than they can be replenished - is the second largest driver for species die-off. Overfishing is a clear example of this, where unsustainable fishing practices deplete the natural populations of marine wildlife.


Chemical pollution is the last major driver for species die-off, and the Honey Bee is a perfect example. Chemical pollution plays a massive role in the collapse of insect populations on land and in harmful algal blooms in our oceans, both of which are critical to their respective ecosystems.


A murky supply chain

The case for sustainability is clear, yet as a recent Deloitte report states, only 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns. So why isn’t sustainability at the top of our agenda? Shouldn’t it be as simple as saying, “let’s not use oils grown in places where rainforests have been cut down” and “let’s not eat vegetables that have been grown using harmful chemicals”?


Unfortunately for the consumer, in many cases, a murky supply chain makes it nearly impossible to see the actual origin of a product even for the manufacturers. There are several reasons for this;

  • Manufacturers are unaware of the exact source of their raw materials 
  • Raw materials get mixed up accidentally
  • Third parties pollute the final product

To really understand the issue, we must grasp how these supply chains work. It often isn’t as simple as the brand you buy from is responsible for the entire supply chain. Commonly the supply chain consists of various distributors, manufacturing sites, raw material providers and cooperatives. This makes it hard to see the impact each of these links has on the entire chain. One distributor might decide to replace sustainably produced corn with a cheap knock-off, whilst another might mix in poorly sourced raw materials. 


A case for transparency

Supply chains are so complex that current solutions don't provide transparency for companies and consumers to check products effectively. People need a way to analyse the provenance and environmental impact of the product in their hands before every link in the chain can be held accountable. 


The case for transparency is clear, but what's the solution? We believe blockchain technology will create a completely transparent and fraud-resistant supply chain. With blockchain, we can require every vendor to add their details to the supply chain record. A product's provenance can then be recorded on an immutable ledger showing exactly when, where, and by whom it was produced. Accountability will increase as fraudulent or environmentally harmful behaviour will be evident through the examination of public records. In short, the more data points we can collect from the manufacturers and distributors, the harder it is for fraudulent or harmful products to end up in the supply chain.


Using a blockchain allows us to verify where a product was made, what ingredients it contains, and the legitimacy of the supplier, distributor and vendor. Essentially, it will enable consumers to verify the product's entire supply chain for authenticity and background.


LifeHash makes it simple by combining tried and tested Bitcoin and DigiByte blockchains with mobile technology. This enables manufacturers and distributors to record each step in their operation on the blockchain ledger by utilising scanners. Ultimately, a package will arrive at the vendors with a code providing the complete history of its contents. Vendors and consumers can then verify an individual item's provenance by scanning it with their phone and voila; a transparent supply chain is created!

Infographic, how blockchain can create a transparent supply chain and help biodiversity?
How blockchain can create a transparent supply chain (infographic)

FAQs

What is supply chain transparency?

The ability to identify the precise details of where, when, and by who an item was produced, transported and sold. 

How can businesses improve transparency through supply chain management?

The integration of blockchain, supported by mobile technology, into the supply chain provides an immutable record at every stage from harvesting the raw materials to the point of sale. This indisputable data not only gives transparency but builds trust in the product and the supplier.  

How can transparency reduce risk in your supply chain?

Low grade or counterfeit materials can cause harm to consumers and businesses alike, by increasing transparency you are also increasing reliability. 

How can transparency improve quality control in your supply chain?

The very essence of blockchain is its security, it is tamper proof, counterfeiting goods becomes a thing of the past allowing you to guarantee the genuine nature of your product. 

How can supply chain transparency improve brand protection?

Consumers will be left in no doubt that the item they have purchased is the genuine article by simply scanning a QR code. This reinforces your brand by crushing the ability of counterfeiters to produce phony merchandise.

Tags

Proof of authenticity
brand protection

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