Global materials science company Avery Dennison has launched two extensions, Real-Time Carbon Impact Analytics and Real-Time Waste Elimination Tool, to its existing atma.io platform in a bid to offer brands a carbon and waste footprint reduction across their supply chains. Looking beyond evident factors such as packaging, the Spring ’22 release will incorporate data on waste created through unsold or returned products, formula testers, or expired products in stores and warehouses. The data points facing the industry—120 billion units of packaging produced annually, 14 million tons of microplastics ending up in the ocean and our drinking water and food supply—are undeniable.
Launched in May 2021, the AI-powered atma.io platform enabled end-to-end tracking transparency thanks to unique digital identities assigned to products. To date, it manages more than 22 billion items including the food, retail, healthcare, and apparel sectors.
The Real-Time Carbon Impact Analytics feature harnesses data from the initial raw material all the way to the factory production stage, incorporating Scope 3 emissions (those that occur indirectly throughout a company’s value chain) and working in compliance with the EU Digital Product Passport regulations due to be enforced in the coming months, which aims to boost circular economic practices while offering consumers more sustainability insight on the products they purchase. Third-party manufacturing environmental data is also incorporated.
The Real-Time Waste Elimination Tool pinpoints supply chain issues by analyzing expiry dates and necessary pallet-level movement in order to optimize product stock management. Further features in the program update include global inventory tracking, suspicious activity alerts to reduce counterfeit items or supply chain disruptions, and purchase order tracking.
BeautyMatter spoke to Michael Goller, Technical Director at atma.io, Avery Dennison Smartrac, to discuss the true cost of inadequate inventory management, game-changing supply chain optimization, and creating value through data precision.
What is the gap in the sustainability market this platform fills?
For brands to become sustainable, they need to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chains. In fact, a sustainable supply chain is increasingly considered to be one of the most impactful components of a company’s sustainability efforts because it can reduce carbon footprint, minimize waste, as well as create greater cost savings and profitability through optimizing end-to-end operations.
However, modern-day supply chains are a complex web, which means there are often many knowledge gaps in information flow. Many companies have a worrisome lack of full visibility into their supply chains, and this is where atma.io comes in. By creating, managing, and assigning unique digital identities for everyday items, we provide end-to-end transparency all the way from source to consumer and beyond, enabling circularity, re-commerce, carbon footprint reporting, and further use cases.
The atma.io Spring ’22 release will give businesses meaningful insights from data that has often been in silos, allowing them to make informed decisions in real time that can dramatically transform their business agility and accelerate their performance across the bottom line, people, planet, and profit. We’ve introduced several new artificial intelligence–driven features, including Real-Time Carbon Impact Analytics and a Real-Time Waste Elimination Tool.
What are the biggest challenges in the implementation of the technology?
In contrast to many of the existing systems and tools that brands and customer organizations employ, atma.io operates on a whole different level of granularity—giving each individual item, but also its ingredients and components, a digital identity. On one hand, this requires scalable data capture mechanisms that work in conjunction with the operational business processes across the supply chain, and on the other hand this naturally leads to a vast amount of streaming event data that needs to be ingested, processed, and analyzed.
With the atma.io platform, we create value by establishing a unified and consistent view, deriving insights, and providing them to the right people at the right moment in time to drive change without impacting their day-to-day operations through burdensome data capture.
How much of a role does having the correct infrastructure and consumer practices have in minimizing carbon footprint?
There’s no doubt that modern living has accelerated an exorbitant buildup of waste. Mass consumption, throwaway culture, and the lure of convenience have resulted in a landscape where many do not consider the wasteful implications of their shopping habits. For instance, one survey of 4,000 women found they own 40 beauty products on average, but only use five—leaving 87% wasted. Whilst we all have a role to play in minimizing carbon footprint, to meet the urgency of curbing climate change it’s critical that businesses act to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.
Supply chains represent a great opportunity to decarbonize and meet net-zero pledges. Avery Dennison is working with many brands and retailers, including a global sportswear brand, to track billions of products at an item level to build a comprehensive picture of the total product lifecycle, and the product’s journey. When we consider that supply chains in food, construction, fashion, fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, automotive, professional services, and freight account for more than half of all global GHG emissions, the possibilities are huge, and the supply chain’s role in decarbonization could be an absolute game-changer.
How much could the idea of using “imperfect” raw materials or packaging, as well as selling products at near-expiration date at a discount, assist in reducing waste?
Greater inventory management can have a huge impact on reducing waste. Overstocking has become a mounting problem when retailers don’t keep a close eye on their inventories. IHL Group estimates that overstocks and out-of-stocks are costing the retail industry $1.8 trillion a year due to “worldwide inventory distortion”— in other words, poor inventory management which surpassed the GDP of Canada in 2020.
Beauty and personal care retail is no stranger to this inventory management challenge. We gathered data with digital ID technology at various beauty retailers and found inventory accuracy to be 50% on average, and as low as 30% at some high-SKU beauty retailers (compared to 65% average among apparel retailers).
The atma.io Real-Time Waste Elimination Tool uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze and alert on anomalies and inefficiencies across the supply chain. This includes information about the overdue movement of products at a pallet level or even isolated individual items within a warehouse that are close to expiration date. These features help ensure action can be taken quickly and proactively in order to improve the efficiency of brands’ supply chains, minimize their product loss, and provide adequate stock to meet customer demands.
What percentage in waste or carbon footprint reduction could be achieved by a brand adopting the atma.io product cloud?
With our latest release, we are tackling both carbon impact analytics and reduction as well as waste elimination. The actual numbers would naturally vary across brands, segments, and industries. Across the various implementations with customers, we have seen significant potential for waste reduction—up in the double-digit percentage range—purely stemming from increased traceability, reduction in stock, and better shelf-life management.
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