Digital Product Passports: Transforming Transparency in Sustainable Fashion. Digital Product Passports (DPPs) are a concept that was introduced by the EU in 2022 by focusing on transforming transparency in sustainable products, including the fashion industry. With every product you buy, a DPP will provide the buyer with comprehensive information about its lifecycle, from origin to disposal.
Technology like this could bridge the gap between consumers and detailed information about products we would never see, allowing transparent and traceable sustainability credentials.
With The European Green Deal’s objectives for a circular economy (which includes sustainability and transparency in the fashion industry), DPPs will be a perfect tool to encourage responsible consumption, minimise waste generation, maximise resource efficiency, and promote the reuse and recycling of products.
The fashion industry is known for its complex and often opaque supply chains. In short, it’s difficult for consumers to understand the negative impacts of the products they buy on the environment, especially for fast fashion brands. With a DPP, we can bridge the gap between information and ultimately transparentise supply chain information, offering a comprehensive overview of the lifecycle of a garment, detailing materials used, methods, energy consumption, waste consumption, transportation and more!
To visualise how DPPs would work in practice, you can watch this video demonstration that showcases their potential benefits and functionalities.
To summarise, the information can be accessed through a QR code or scannable tag and is entirely free of charge.
DPPs aim to transform transparent sustainably by:
- Including product information – They would offer essential details about the brand, product name, description, and relevant identifiers such as barcode or serial numbers. Essentially enabling consumers to access the basics the product has to offer easily.
- Providing supply chain visibility – The DPP offers transparency by detailing the composition, origin and sources of the raw materials used to produce the products. Furthermore, they even include the names, locations and contact details of the manufacturer(s) involved in its production. This fosters accountability and encourages sustainable practices throughout the production process.
- Disclosing the environmental impact – By including the product’s crucial information about the product’s ecological footprint, energy consumption, water usage and even the toxic substances and components used during manufacturing and transport, a DPP could influence the choices of consumers based on a product’s sustainability performance.
- Disclosing social impact and certifications – With DPPs providing insights into the social impact of a product, customers are more aware of the labour conditions, wages and standard social compliances. By including certificates proving such standards, customers are more incentivised to support brands prioritising fair and ethical practices.
- Guiding the disposal and recycling of the product – A DPP would provide information about the recommended end-of-life management options for a product, focusing on minimising waste and promoting responsible disposal and recycling practices. This could include outlining available recycling methods, recommending nearby facilities and providing detailed instructions on how to prepare their garments for recycling. They could also enable consumers to track and measure their own personal recycling efforts!
Digital product passports are expected to be mandatory by 2026, meaning that so far, it’s making progress, but it may be a much less developed version for the fashion industry. By using Blockchain technology (digital ledgers formed with blocks of information and linked together), DPPs can enhance credibility and transparency through the supply chain and accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable and responsible fashion industry. For example, the Stella McCartney brand has partnered with NATIVA, which produces 100% traceable, regeneratively farmed Australian wool. By using Blockchain technology, NATIVA follows the journey of their wool, from farm to sheep, to the clothes on your back, with the guarantee of a traceable supply chain.
Although Blockchain technology isn’t a remedy for all sustainability challenges in the fashion industry, it is a valuable tool in transforming a wasteful sector into a more transparent and ethical one.
The benefits also include:
- Counterfeit prevention – A significant issue in the fashion industry (a supposed 20% of fashion products advertised on Instagram alone are fake), counterfeiting contributes to an abundance of unethical practices and environmental damage. However, with the use of Blockchains, consumers will be able to identify unique digital identities for products and verify their legitimacy.
- Stakeholder collaboration – Every industry has an ecosystem, and collaboration between brands, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers needs to be connected. Blockchains enable information sharing across a broad range of stakeholders on a single digital platform, allowing collective efforts towards sustainable fashion and addressing industry challenges and solutions.
By providing consumers with detailed information on the powers of transparency in a wasteful industry, Digital Product Passports will ultimately empower individuals to make more informed, sustainable choices and create a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.
For more information on sustainable fashion, check out our Journal!
Wear what you love. Cherish it, and it lasts a long time!
Don’t miss out on new insights by subscribing to our free newsletter to receive the latest news on our projects, campaigns, discounts, and more!