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[Textile industry] DPP: Understanding the EU’s Digital Product Passport and How It Impacts Fashion Brands

A Digital Product Passport may be one of the most visible indicators of a brand's environmental performance. From labeling to enhanced tech implementation - dive into the changes this so-called “digital twin” will bring.

Published on

Feb 09, 2024

Written by

Lidia Lüttin


Policies and Regulations

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For fashion and textile brands operating in the EU market, the Digital Product Passport may be one of the most visible indicators of a company’s environmental performance. This so-called “digital twin” will provide a thorough overview of an individual product’s sustainability throughout its lifecycle.

This will be a big change in business practices for many companies, affecting everything from labeling to enhanced tech implementation. To gain a further understanding of EU regulations and their impact on your brand, we recommend reading this article as well as exploring our Textile Regulations Hub. In this blog, we’re taking a deep dive into the EU’s Digital Product Passport and what it means for fashion and textile brands.

What’s Behind the Digital Product Passport?

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) has been in the works for several years when it was first announced in the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textile. In 2022, it was further refined in the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), which guides the EU’s approach to regulating more environmentally sustainable and circular products.

In addition to requirements on how products are made, the ESPR also potentially seeks to provide a framework for how companies communicate a product’s sustainability to both consumers and authorities.

According to a communication by the European Commission, “Digital product passports will be the norm for all products regulated under the ESPR, enabling products to be tagged, identified and linked to data relevant to their circularity and sustainability.”

What is a Digital Product Passport?

While the technical specifics and implementation of the DPP are still evolving, it’s essentially a digital record of a product’s key characteristics throughout the entire lifecycle. It may include information such as a product’s origin, material composition, and carbon footprint. Efforts to create more circularity within the fashion and textile industries mean that the DPP will likely also detail repair and recycling instructions.

While many products already have a “passport”—often a physical label that includes information such as material composition or country of origin—the new DPP will legally require more extensive reporting. There are two components of the Digital Product Passport that fashion and textile brands should be aware of:

  1. A data carrier (such as a QR code) linking to a unique identifier must be physically present on the product at the time of sale.
  2. A product’s digital record must include data sourced across a product’s entire value chain, from manufacturers and importers to repairers and recyclers. This digital record is intended for customers as well as all parties within the value chain.  

This level of data collection and analysis will demand a comprehensive carbon management solution for large fashion and textile brands. At Carbonfact, our database of fashion-specific heuristics paired with our Uncertainty metric—which aids in data collection—enables us to provide comprehensive environmental LCAs for regulatory requirements like the Digital Product Passport.

What Should the Digital Product Passport Display?

Although the final list of requirements and implementation procedures for the DPP has not been released, we do know broadly what it will entail. Fashion and textile brands can expect to:

  • Provide reliable and accurate data points about the product, including the materials, energy, and water consumption, and environmental impact. From manufacturing details to carbon footprint, the passport ensures a holistic data collection process that spans the entire product lifecycle.
  • Leverage advanced analytics to facilitate in-depth data analysis into their products' environmental and social footprint. This information serves as the foundation for generating comprehensive sustainability reports in alignment with regulatory requirements.
  • Enhance supply chain transparency by enabling efficient management and traceability of data. From raw material sourcing to distribution channels, businesses will use the Digital Product Passport to ensure accountability and trace the journey of each component in an individual product.
  • Communicate essential information in a standardized and accessible digital format. Each product should have a unique product identifier that links to a digital record in a database or website. Imagine a QR code or RFID tag. The information should also be easy to access for consumers, retailers, and other stakeholders.
  • Offer a comprehensive view of the product's lifecycle, including any updates or changes, such as repairs. This should allow for a nuanced understanding of the product's environmental impact from creation to disposal. 

This information isn’t just for consumers. The DPP also aims to support businesses along the supply chain. By providing easy-to-access information about their work, the DPP can help them improve environmental performance and save costs.

When Will the Digital Product Passport Be Implemented?

The first draft of the DPP is expected to be released in 2024, which should detail the information to include on a passport, the type of data carriers to be used, and other specifications. Regarding environmental footprint data, conversations are still ongoing regarding reporting. It will likely be based on the EU Product Environmental Footprint.

From there, the latest reports indicate that the DPP will be rolled out by industry between 2026-2030. Because the fashion and textile industries are significant contributors to global carbon emissions, it’s a safe bet to plan on implementing the DPP sooner rather than later.

How Can Fashion & Textile Brands Prepare for the Digital Product Passport?

The Digital Product Passport launch may seem like it’s a long way off, but there are actions you can take now to ensure your brand is ready.

  1. Stay in the loop! Keep an eye on the EU regulatory process, attend relevant workshops, and subscribe to updates. There may be additional opportunities for input and feedback to ensure your brand has a voice.
  2. Take tangible actions now to reduce the environmental impact of your business practices. Creating a more sustainable and circular economy is key to the ESPR and other EU regulations.
  3. Implement a carbon management system to begin collecting, organizing, and understanding all the environmental data across your supply chain. Carbonfact can not only help report on your environmental impact, but also provide actionable steps for reducing your brand’s footprint.

Carbonfact is actively involved in efforts to guide the development of the DPP. We are currently working with a consortium of climate tech startups like CommonShare, certification bodies, and brands such as AdoreMe to propose a solution to the DPP at the EU level. As such, we’re following this topic closely and will update as soon as further information is released in 2024.  

For now, here’s what to know: the DPP will require numerous KPIs to be reported and displayed. Carbonfact can seamlessly provide a product’s environmental score and other sustainability indicators. We offer robust carbon management, encompassing all emissions categories (Scope 1, 2, and 3) and environmental data points, empowering brands to leverage their data for the creation of a Digital Product Passport. Connect with our team today.

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