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Why are fashion brands creating digital passports for their garments?

digital passports for products

By 2050, the European Union plans to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions, that is, to be climate neutral. To this end, the EC has launched a new package of regulations as part of the European Green Pact, a proposal that aims to make almost all physical goods circular and energy efficient by 2030.

The aim of this regulation is therefore to contribute to the fight against climate change through the implementation of a circular economy, to decouple the existing relationship between economic growth and waste production. Within its Strategy for Circular and Sustainable Textiles, it also emphasizes the importance of regulating the textile industry, which it has ranked as the fourth industry with the greatest environmental impact, and aims to ensure that textile products marketed in European markets are durable, recyclable, free of hazardous substances and produced in a sustainable manner.

 The measures of this strategy include, among others, the implementation of a digital product passport to all physical goods from 2023. In this post, we explain everything you need to know about these passports.

What are digital passports?

 Digital passports, which are planned to be introduced next year, will be a collection of information about the manufacturing process of each product so that users along the supply chain can reuse or recycle them properly, and will be useful to know if any material prevents recycling or is very polluting.

 In the fashion world, if a garment has a digital passport, it will have a QR code or an NFC, RFID or Bluetooth tag containing detailed information about the product. The inclusion of these passports on clothing and other items will bring more transparency to the fashion industry by including information about the raw material composition of the garment, the manufacturing process and even the method of transportation.

In the fashion world, the clothing labels would come with a QR code or others with detailed product information.

Who are digital passports intended for?

Although the EU wants to make the digital passport a standard for all products marketed in Europe, for now, the priority is focused on the textile, construction and automotive sectors.

What information will the digital passports have to contain?

Consumers will have clear, reliable and easily accessible information about the products they consume, how to maintain them and how best to recycle them. However, a great deal of work is needed to be able to identify exactly what information users need along the supply chain. As a result, the European Commission will review the scheme on a product-by-product basis, the process will be governed in separate acts and will require the entire supply chain to sit down and discuss the key information that should be included in the passport.

Complications of digital passport implementation and intellectual property 

However, manufacturers and all professionals involved will face major challenges in creating, sharing and distributing the required data in a simple and cost-effective manner. The European legislative initiative is necessary and meets the criteria of sustainability and digital transformation, but it will really be a big challenge for companies.

In addition, concerns center on intellectual property and privacy. The concept of exposing all product information sounds contradictory to intellectual property protection, but this is where the issue of encryption comes in to protect this information. And yet, there will be cases where companies do not want to share certain data, even if it is encrypted, because it is linked to confidential information, so being transparent in justifying green claims can be tricky.

In these cases, ZKPs, or zero-knowledge protocols, can provide a way to achieve this data transmission by allowing sustainability information to be shared without revealing confidential product data. This will allow manufacturers to selectively share information throughout the supply chain without the need to store data or compromise data security.

Zero-knowledge protocols can provide a way to achieve data transmission by enabling the sharing of sustainability information without revealing confidential product data..

Digital passports, a way to address greenwashing and textile waste

The information in the digital passports will be crucial to address greenwashing, as they will force companies to disclose whether their products are truly safe, easy to maintain and recyclable, as well as whether their activities are truly aligned with environmental protection. 

In addition, this passport can help eliminate textile waste, as large companies that handle surplus product will be obliged to disclose the quantities discarded per year, the reason for discarding, and the amount of waste they have handed over for reuse, use, recycling, recycling, energy recovery and disposal activities in accordance with the waste hierarchy. In addition, they will need to ensure that this information is available, either on a public website or other means. 

In conclusion, digital passports are a good measure to reduce the environmental impact of new product production, in addition to increasing recycling and circularity of fabrics.

If you want to launch your next collection in a circular way and in accordance with European sustainability regulations, you can find in our catalog fabrics that contribute to reducing textile waste and the environmental impact of fashion. You can also try to sell your leftover fabrics, someone might be looking for them!

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