It’s been a while since the European Union formally announced the EU Green Deal and Digital Product Passport (DPP) initiatives. Coming to the end of 2023, the how of implementation is taking shape. What follows is a digital product passport update, an overview of where things stand today.
In fashion, and in other priority areas, the DPP aims to provide:
- Digital identities for products, connecting the physical with the digital
- Better information sharing across the entire value chain
- Easier access to circular economy practices and better consumer choices
The innovation required to deliver these components means that the DPP, aligned with the EU Green Deal, makes businesses think differently about product lifecycle management. And about the value the DPP mandate can deliver beyond compliance.
Why target fashion and textiles?
The environmental footprint of the fashion sector is unsustainably high. The European Commission wants longer product lifespans and to give consumers more information and rights. Fashion, a massive, pollution-heavy industry, made sense as a target for the EU agenda. Six hundred MEPs voted in favor of the proposal, which includes the introduction of mandatory digital product passports as the pathway to implement the EU’s Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) proposal.
DPP: Following the full product journey
Now that it has been adopted, what does the legislation actually address? Critically, it is not just the product itself – it is the full value chain. The information a DPP needs to carry should answer a variety of questions. These may include, among other things: Is the product designed for circularity and how? What impact does the product have on the environment? Does the information included support sustainability and circularity claims? And how does that work?
By giving every product a digital identity, the DPP serves as a repository for a wealth of product information. For example, a product’s origin, its composition, repair instructions, recycling instructions, and all other data relevant to its lifecycle are available directly from the garment itself. Suddenly, the “dumb garment” becomes smart. It carries every event from its lifecycle with it, which all actors along the value chain can access.
DPP success: It’s all about the data and real-world implementation
Europe is home to roughly 140,000 textile and fashion companies, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. As it stands today, it would be impossible to harmonize the data from all of them. The next steps for DPP success include finding a way to standardize and automate data exchange before the sheer volume and complexity overwhelm efforts to comply.
Standardization, interoperability and IT systems
Certain technical underpinnings need to be in place to make the DPP concept work in the real world. These include, in part, standards, interoperability and robust, scalable IT systems and appropriate enterprise architecture.
Research programs and pilots for real-world DPP testing
The DPP initiative has reached the real-world pilot stage in its development. The European Commission has issued standards and funds research and deployment programs to help identify missing insights, test certain concepts and run pilots to build experience. An example here is a grant awarded by the EU in 2022 to the CIRPASS consortium to deliver three working digital product passport prototypes. Similar programs run as a part of the ramp-up to DPP readiness.
The CIRPASS consortium, made up of 31 members, works to investigate what is possible, what exists already, what can and should be developed, and it makes recommendations to the European Commission. The driving force behind CIRPASS is the idea that we need to shift away from the standard business models that always require more resources. What business models can be developed that do not?
We need data to find out. Data collected and accessed transparently will shape these new models. This is what the DPP is all about. Ensuring adoption and engagement through user-friendliness is critical to getting the most value from the DPP initiative.
Untangling complexity to reach value
Associating a garment with a digital ID and associating the garment’s lifecycle data with its digital product passport not only connects the physical world with the digital, it also creates a smart product. It isn’t a leap to see that this unlocks immeasurable value for a brand. The DPP mandate may seem like a tax, but in implementing a way to trace a garment’s full journey, brands gain virtually end-to-end insight across the entire value chain.
Get in touch with Kezzler to discover more about how the same technology and transparency required for DPP compliance can deliver more value to your brand.
Or watch our recent webinar, “Digital Product Passport: Aligning with the EU Green Deal” on demand to take a deep dive into the topic.