Beverage giant Coca-Cola and the US State Department are jointly launching a blockchain project to build a secure and transparent registry for employees in an attempt to fight forced labor at a global level. US fintech companies Bitfury and Emercoin will also work on the blockchain platform, as reported by Reuters.
In an emailed statement, the State Department said this was its first project involving the application of distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Coca-Cola revealed it had been testing several blockchain use cases for over a year.
Brent Wilton, global head of workplace rights at Coca-Cola, told Reuters:
“We are partnering with the pilot of this project to further increase transparency and efficiency of the verification process related to labor policies within our supply chain.”
Food and beverage corporations have to deal with the risk of forced labor in regions where sugarcane is obtained. KnowTheChain (KTC), an initiative launched by US-based Humanity United, reported in 2017 that the majority of food and beverage companies failed to address the problem.
According to the KTC study, which involved ten multinationals, Coca-Cola had plans to carry out 28 studies on forced labor, child labor, and land rights for its sugar supply chains by 2020.
The International Labor Organization has established that almost 25 million people worldwide are working in forced-labor conditions. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 47% of the total.
Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA), a non-profit organization that is also involved in the project, said the new venture was meant to build a secure registry for employees based on DLT validation and digital notary features.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby told Reuters the US State Department would provide assistance and advice related to labor protection.
“The Department of State is excited to work on this innovative blockchain-based pilot,” he said.
In October last year, several US Department of State officials praised the potential of blockchain, saying it had revolutionary applications in different areas of life.