NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) and the U.S. State Department along with two other companies said on Friday they are launching a project using blockchain’s digital ledger technology to create a secure registry for workers that will help fight the use of forced labor worldwide.
The State Department said this is the government agency’s first major project on this issue using blockchain, reinforcing the technology’s growing application for social causes.
According to the International Labor Organization, nearly 25 million people work in forced-labor conditions worldwide, with 47 percent of them in the Asia-Pacific region.
Food and beverage companies are under pressure to address the risk of forced labor in countries where they obtain sugarcane. A study released last year by KnowTheChain (KTC), a partnership founded by U.S.-based Humanity United, showed that most food and beverage companies fall short in their efforts to solve the problem.
The study said Coca-Cola, one of 10 global companies looked at by KTC, has committed to conduct 28 country-level studies on child labor, forced labor, and land rights for its sugar supply chains by 2020.
The U.S. beverage giant said it has been exploring multiple blockchain projects for more than a year.