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New blockchain solution aims to keep our food ethical

17 Jan 2019
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WWF-Australia and BCG Digital Ventures have today launched a revolutionary new digital platform that uses blockchain and other technologies to track food and products, and helps people and business to avoid illegal, environmentally-damaging or unethical products.

The global platform, titled OpenSC, enables anyone to scan product QR codes with a smartphone camera, which automatically takes them to information about where a specific product came from, when and how it was produced, and how it journeyed along the supply chain.

OpenSC enables businesses to track their products, such as food and tissue paper, by attaching to products a digital tag (such as an RFID tag) at their original point of production and linking these to a blockchain platform. 

The blockchain, which cannot be tampered with, records the movement of the product and can also store additional information, such as the temperature of food in storage.

“Through OpenSC, businesses and consumers will have a whole new level of transparency about whether the food we eat is contributing to environmental degradation or social injustice such as slavery,” says WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

BCGDV managing director and co-chair of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Consumption Paul Hunyor adds, “OpenSC is fantastic for businesses that are committed to sustainable and ethical operations. “In addition to providing transparency about the origin of an item’s production, it helps optimise business supply chain operations, reduces costs, and enables producers to manage issues such as product recalls.”

OpenSC is being announced at an event at the top-tier Sydney restaurant Aria by Australian chef Matt Moran.  

He is cooking one of the first products to be tracked using OpenSC – Patagonian toothfish – which were caught in sub-Antarctic waters by Austral Fisheries, one of Australia’s largest fishing companies, and sent to thirteen countries around the world*.

“We have developed technology that can reliably pinpoint the exact location where each Austral Toothfish was caught and then use machine learning to demonstrate that it was caught legally in an MSC-certified sustainable fishery, and in particular that the fish was not caught inside an established marine protected area or in an environmentally sensitive area,” says Hunyor.

OpenSC was developed through a series of successful pilots with a number of WWF’s corporate partners including with Australian supermarket, Woolworths and is available to all businesses that are looking to demonstrate that their products were produced in environmentally-friendly or ethical ways.

“We’ve designed this technology to be highly compatible both with existing supply chain operations and certification systems, but also to interface with other Blockchain enabled providence solutions. It is exciting that producers who are ready to provide transparency to their customers can be on OpenSC in a very short timeframe,” says Hunyor.

OpenSC has been launched following an award-winning pilot by WWF and its partners that used blockchain to track tuna caught in the Pacific. 

It draws on 30 years of WWF’s leadership in supply chain transformations to improve environmental outcomes and BCGDV’s expertise in developing blockchain-enabled supply chain traceability and launching innovative start-ups.