The European Union (EU) is making strides to combat environmental damage caused by various industries, with a particular focus on the fashion sector.
Amidst a wave of legislation aimed at rectifying eco-issues, including pollution, deforestation, and microplastics usage, the EU has introduced its Digital Product Passport (DPP) under the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR).
This innovative tool seeks to bring transparency, sustainability, and accountability to the fashion industry while leveraging blockchain technology – without consumers having to learn the intricacies of the technology itself.
The DPP, which isn’t expected to launch until at least 2026, will launch alongside the EU’s proposed ESPR framework, requiring brands to collect and share data from a product’s entire lifecycle in the form of a ‘digital twin’.
All Through a QR Code
The underlying rules of the ESPR proposal would apply to all products placed on the EU market – whether a product was produced inside or outside the EU. This data-rich passport will provide information on a product’s manufacturing process, sustainability attributes, environmental impact, sourcing, and more.
While the passport is built on blockchain, the DPP aims to secure and streamline data accessibility, enabling consumers to simply scan a QR code or barcode to access product information.
Upon scanning the QR code, the DPP will include general product information – ID, weight, manufacturing facility, reference numbers, raw material source, carbon footprint profile, chain of custody of current and previous owners, and information that speaks to repairs, warranties, disassembly and recycling instructions.
Addressing some of the fashion industry’s long-time ethical concerns, the DPP emerges as a legitimate and practical solution to address these issues, ensuring transparency and traceability. By enhancing the connection between brands, stakeholders, and consumers, the DPP empowers consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and avoid greenwashing, while fostering confidence in durable, sustainably produced items.
Minimizing instances of greenwashing, brands can validate their green claims and establish a unified approach to DPP integration across the supply chain. However, there is a big onus on brands to
One of the biggest challenges in this technology’s future implementation is the need for the DPP to be connected through a “data carrier” to a unique identifier that must be physically visible on the product and fully accessible online.
For those responsible for placing the product into the EU’s stream of commerce, they will also be held legally accountable for collecting, providing, and updating the product’s required information so it can provide real-time, accurate information to consumers and regulators.
Ultimately, integrating the DPP into already established workflows will certainly take time in working to transform the existing supply chain. Initially, the specifications of the regulations that would govern the DPP’s introduction have been significantly delayed, with the expectation that they would be published in 2024.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done with respect to establishing a unified system that comprehensively addresses social impact. While there isn’t an official date set for the DPP’s introduction, most products are expected to be covered by these future regulations by 2030.
Future regulations are expected to come into effect around 2026/2027.
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