In various regions, there is a growing urgency to combat environmental damage caused by diverse industries, prompting a race against time. The European Union (EU) has notably intensified its efforts, unveiling an array of legislations in the past year to address ecological issues and rectify past environmental transgressions.
Among the industries under scrutiny for its polluting practices, ethical challenges, and lack of accountability is the fashion sector. The European Commission, in addition to measures targeting microplastics and deforestation, has proposed the Eco-design for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), positioning it as a cornerstone for fostering environmentally sustainable and circular products. Applicable to all products entering the EU market, irrespective of origin, the bill introduces the Digital Product Passport (DPP), a transformative tool that particularly targets textiles.
Unveiling the Digital Product Passport (DPP)
The DPP, officially known as the Digital Product Passport, mandates brands to compile and share comprehensive lifecycle data in the form of a 'digital twin.' Rooted in blockchain technology for secure and accessible data, the DPP provides consumers with information through a care label – a QR code or barcode – allowing them to scan and access details about a product.
Categories within the DPP encompass general product information (ID, weight, manufacturing facility), source (raw material type and origins), footprint (carbon footprint profile), ownership (product's past and current owners), and information on repairs, warranties, and disassembly/recycling instructions.
According to Jake Hanover, Director of Digital Products and Apparel Solutions at Avery Dennison, the DPP aims to enhance transparency, traceability, and trust across the entire supply chain, empowering consumers to make sustainable choices.
Understanding the Digital Product Passport's Significance
The DPP's data benefits brands, stakeholders, and consumers in distinct ways. Consumers gain access to verified information, enabling more informed purchasing decisions and reducing the likelihood of being misled by greenwashing. For businesses, the DPP fosters consumer confidence, builds trust, and opens new revenue streams. It also shields businesses from allegations of greenwashing by validating their sustainability claims.
While the DPP holds promise, its integration poses challenges. Brands must connect the DPP through a data carrier to a unique identifier physically present on the product. Additionally, seamless integration into established workflows may demand significant adjustments and technological investments. Widespread adoption requires collaborative efforts, acknowledging constraints in specific segments of the supply chain.
Delay and Future Expectations
The DPP's introduction has faced delays, with regulations expected by 2026/27 and full coverage for most products by 2030. The delay is attributed to the need for clarity on social impact and the establishment of a unified system. Despite the delay, brands and retailers are advised to familiarise themselves with the DPP's benefits, invest in education about the technology, and communicate transparently with customers.
Preparation for DPP's Introduction
Ahead of regulated changes, brands and retailers should invest time in understanding the DPP and its implications. Clear and authentic messaging to consumers, collaboration across the supply chain, and relationships with key players like Recover are crucial. Recover, for instance, aims to provide standardised information required for the DPP, including voluntary labels and environmental impact values obtained through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
In conclusion, staying updated on regulations, building relationships in the supply chain, and viewing the DPP as an opportunity to enhance the textile and fashion sector are essential for brands and retailers preparing for the DPP's eventual introduction.