A partnership between regenerative wool supplier ZQRX and Actual, a SimCity-like transformation platform, shows that interactive digital platforms can be used to solve challenges around environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).
As the fashion industry doubles down on ESG and implementation of more rigorous sustainability standards like the B Corp certification, gamification within the supply chain could be the answer to simplifying the process. For example, through this partnership, ZQRX’s clients can use Actual to access ESG data in a virtual world setting while actively reducing carbon/GHG emissions, tracking their progress and impact at every step. ZQRX works with brands including Allbirds.
In Actual’s virtual world, customized dashboards for each ZQRX partner display their carbon emissions, energy use and projected ROI. ZQRX referenced its audits and internal company data to populate the fields — supplying this data is key to taking part in this virtual world environment. ESG goals can then easily be changed and adjusted to suit projections. Actual’ hopes to add a way for merino wool farmers and brands to communicate on the platform about their individual regenerative agriculture programs. As Actual has only launched this partnership this month, other brands and businesses will undoubtedly follow ZQRX’s lead.
Talking about the partnership with Glossy, John Brackenridge, CEO of the New Zealand Merino Company, which spearheaded the ZQRX regenerative agriculture index and platform, said, “If you’re a farmer, [on the Actual platform,] you can have a digital clone of your farm. There, we can bring in all the data and [access] a dashboard, and it breaks down what you have and what your biodiversity number is, based on 15 points. It lets farmers know how they’re scoring and how much they still have to improve. Technology is going to be huge for our sector.”
ZQRX has seen a significant increase in its network of growers and brand partners over the past year. It now works with 460 farms across over 3.7 million acres of land. It is also testing the waters with luxury brands — Italian luxury brand Reda has committed to using ZQRX fibers for yarn and fabric. And moves to embrace regenerative agriculture have been made by fashion brands looking to do the work to clean up their supply chain. But ZQRX with its partners is the first to implement digital technology to help visualize the required steps within the context of a 3D digital world.
Brackenridge credits the younger generations with advancing farming traceability through technology. Although the wool industry is one of the oldest in the world, he hopes to revolutionize it through modernization. “The young people that are coming to work here have literally taken us into the metaverse, and [establish] connections that allow for a story between the fiber origin and the customer. What’s happening in the metaverse is also affecting farming on a basic level. It goes back to what’s ancient and what’s modern: How do we overlay new technology, not only to help with the measurement of the carbon and mitigations, but also to implement machine learning and artificial intelligence? We’re bringing these elements in, to go beyond accreditation to a system that is truly regenerative. Because the world’s got to go beyond what is sustainable.”
ZQRX expects that within the next few months, it will be behind one of the first cohorts of farmers where all of the farms involved will all have a carbon number and will know what their gross carbon is, allowing them to take action and lean into mitigations. The farmers that are using Actual’s offerings represent around 3.2 million acres of land.