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Provenance raises $5m to tackle greenwashing with ‘transparency tech’

Provenance, a startup that digitally verifies corporate sustainability claims in areas such as net-zero and fully recyclable packaging, has secured $5m (£4.1m) in a funding round.

The female-founded company’s technology, called Proof Point, can be integrated into ecommerce pages where consumers can click to see evidence of a retailer’s sustainability claims.

More than 150 brands are using Provenance’s Proof Point tech, including Unilever, Napolina, Arla and Cult Beauty.

The London-based company said it has tripled its customer base in the past year and is currently live in 18 markets globally. It works with 81 independent verification bodies to provide proof of sustainability claims.

Provenance aims to catch out companies that undertake in greenwashing, a deceptive marketing technique that gives the false impression a company is environmentally friendly.

It comes as consumers are increasingly factoring in sustainability into their purchasing decisions. A report by Euroconsumer found that 53% of shoppers cannot tell when a company is telling the truth about sustainability claims.

Working Capital Innovation Fund and Nordic Eye led the investment round, which brings Provenance’s total funding to $6.2m.

The Brandtech Group and Digital Currency Group also provided capital. Angel investors from Blockchain.com, SwiftKey and musician Peter Gabriel also provided funds.

Provenance said it will use the capital boost for product development and to reach more customers. The company, which was founded by Jessi Baker in 2013, aims to reach one billion people.

It also plans to increase its headcount to more than 50 people this year.

“Provenance is fighting greenwash with transparency tech, and helping brands unlock commercial value from their positive social and environmental impact,” said Baker. “We’re already driving results for small independent brands and global brand groups alike, and we can’t wait to expand our community.”

In 2017, Provenance raised £650,000 during a seed round and an undisclosed amount in 2018. Back then, its focus was using blockchain technology to track products through the supply chain, such as tracking tuna through Southeast Asian supply chains.

Dan Viederman, partner at Working Capital Innovation Fund, said: “To change global supply chains for the better, we urgently need greater transparency about products’ social and environmental impact. Before Provenance there hadn’t been a trusted way to communicate verified or evidenced claims, at scale, about supply chain working conditions.”