Pilot will trial tech to meet EU's textile digital passport plans

A consortium of organisations has joined forces on a pilot study to test a traceability system for textiles, ahead of the EU's plans to introduce a digital product passport (DPP) for the category by 2030.

The goal of the DPP is to encourage sustainable production, enable the transition to a circular economy, and help consumers make more sustainable choices.

The EU's move towards the use of DPPs is part of its circular economy action plan, designed to make European industries cleaner, greener and more competitive, and includes other industrial sectors such as batteries, electronics, furniture, plastics, construction materials and chemicals.

The Trace4Value project is bringing together more than 65 partners – including academic groups, technology providers, standards organisations, textile producers and clothing manufacturers – with the aim of creating and piloting a DPP that can be used to electronically register, process and share product-related information between supply chain partners, authorities, and consumers.

A key part of the project was the development of a common protocol that will enable sharing of data between different organisations. With that in place, the pilot will test the system by tagging garments in production with a digital carrier linked to specific product data that will generate a product identity.

Selected garments from apparel brands Kappahl and Marimekko will be tagged in production with an ID carrier on the products that stores supply chain and transparency data, linked to a QR code that will allow the product information to be accessed instantly using a mobile device.

Marimekko's sustainability manager, Marjut Lovio, said: "Digital product passports aim to increase transparency and traceability of products to enable improved consumer communications. This pilot program will help the industry to prepare for planned regulations that will move us one step closer to a circular economy."

The technology underpinning the project is provided by TrusTrace, with other partners in the consortium including the Swedish Institute for Standards, GS1 Sweden, TEXroad Foundation, Circularista, 2bPolicy, Rudholm & Haak, Aalto University, and Trimco Group.

The project is partly funded by Sweden's innovation agency Vinnova, and coordinated by the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE).

"Our goal is to effectively test how a DPP can function in practice – and prepare for future implementation," said TrusTrace co-founder and chief executive Shameek Ghosh.

"Working together with dozens of industry leaders, the Trace4Value project will allow us to investigate the opportunities and challenges that the DPP will entail for textile and fashion companies, ultimately helping the entire industry comply with this new directive before 2030."

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