Swedish retailer debuts digital product passports pilot to help customers make more informed choices
Kappahl’s Vice President Sustainability, Sandra Roos: ”So far, we have learned how important it is that the sustainability and IT competencies work closely together when the sustainability work gets digitalised.”
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
January 31, 2024
By 2030, digital product passports (DPP) will be mandatory for textiles in the EU, enabling consumers to access information about products’ climate footprint and sustainability data in order to make informed choices. The background is the need for access to product information throughout the value chain, between all actors involved in the product’s life cycle — producers, retailers, consumers, or repairers — from manufacturing all the way to the customer, reuse, and recycling. It’s part of the EU’s so-called Green Deal and is included in the so-called Ecodesign Directive for sustainable products. The regulations will require that almost all products placed on the European market have a product passport that will provide reliable sustainability data down to the smallest component, to increase traceability and facilitate a circular economy. Textiles, electronics, and batteries are the first product areas to be introduced.
Trace4Value is a larger consortium consisting of more than 65 actors with several different sub-projects. One of them is a pilot project on the digital product passports, led by Trustrace, which also involves the likes of GS1, Rudholm Group, Marimekko, and Kappahl. As a part of the project, the latter debuts a test of the product passports to investigate what the new system will look like, what data needs to be collected, and how it can be presented to customers. Starting this month, Kappahl’s customers who buy either a pair of children’s trousers or a children’s sweater from the spring collection of Minories online will be able to access sustainability data on materials, suppliers, eco-labelling and how the garments can be circulated.
Why is it important for you to initiate such a project?
— We want to be a pioneer when it comes to sustainability and transparency in fashion, says Sandra Roos, Vice President Sustainability at Kappahl. The introduction of digital product passports means a major change and workload for our entire industry, and we truly believe that to solve it, we have to work and learn together. The Trace4Value project is valuable to us as a fashion company since it is a project with representatives from many different parts engaged with the DPP, from data supply to label printing. We are now very curious about how the passports will be received by our customers and what knowledge the pilot will give us.
Jenny Wärn, Implementation Manager at Trustrace, shares that today, the availability of information about production, materials, and content for products such as clothing and electronics is almost non-existent.
— This complicates the maintenance, reuse, repair and recycling of products, she says. The digital product passports enable a more transparent value chain for customers and stakeholders in the circular chain. Consumers will have access to information that not only educates them about the product, but also provides insights into how to repair and recycle it.
Sandra Roos, what’s been the hardest thing working with the project?
— So far, we have learned how important it is that the sustainability and IT competencies work closely together when the sustainability work gets digitalised. The project started in the spring of 2022 and will run throughout 2024 and will then be evaluated, so the learnings will be concluded later this year.
Yes, what are the next steps here?
— This is a pilot project to prepare for new regulations and to support our work to transition to a sustainable business model. We will continue by integrating and scaling the results in order to be compliant and to reach our sustainability and business goals, which are closely linked together, Roos explains. She adds:
— The introduction of digital product passports means a major change for the industry. We will not solve it on our own, but must work together and learn together.