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e-SCM & 3 years of thesis on traceability

e-SCM & 3 years of thesis on traceability

Subject: Promoting circularity and traceability in the field of fashion and textiles: proposal for the Digital Product Passport to achieve product transparency 

 

Three years of R&D summarized in 42 minutes! 
Our doctoral student Pantxika Ospital obtained the degree of Doctor after 3 years of 
 
thesis carried out within belharra / e-SCM on the Digital Product Passport . On October 17 , she presented the restitution of her work during her thesis defense at ESTIA. “The fashion and textile industry is faced with significant environmental, social and economic challenges.  This thesis is at the heart of the transition of the fashion sector which aims to stimulate and accelerate dynamics of circularity and transparency in order to respond to the challenges of sobriety, regulatory developments and the growing expectations of consumers. » Pantxika Ospital

 

Fashion Industry Background

The fashion and textile industry faces significant environmental, social and economic challenges. This thesis is at the heart of the transition of the fashion sector which aims to stimulate and accelerate dynamics of circularity and transparency in order to respond to the challenges of sobriety, regulatory developments and the growing expectations of consumers.   

 

The textile and clothing industry faces a triple crisis, similar to many other sectors: 

 

*  An ecological crisis : The textile industry is notorious for its waste and pollution, with the use of non-renewable resources, harmful chemicals for the production and processing of fibers, intensive use of water and soils, as well as the release of microplastics and hazardous substances into water, leading to the degradation of the natural environment (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017).

*  An economic crisis : According to the 2017 Pulse of the Fashion Industry report, the textile industry was facing potential decline due to scarcity of raw materials, increasing costs of energy, water and workforce, as well as supply and retail disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic (Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, 2017; Anner, 2020).

*  A social crisis : Working conditions throughout the textile production chain have been highlighted by numerous scandals. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which require respect for human rights, including the payment of a living wage to supply chain workers, are not yet respected by many companies (Labor Behind the Label).

The Call for Transparency

The general public's awareness of these risks and the economic crisis have led to changes in consumer behavior. They seek to buy informed and demand more transparency from fashion companies. In response, regulations are evolving in Europe, both at national and European level, to obtain more information on fashion products (European Commission, 2022).  

In this context, regulations are being developed in Europe, aimed at strengthening the disclosure of information, both at national and European level. Among the key initiatives is the implementation of a digital product passport (PNP) for textile items. This PNP aims to inform consumers, improve communication between players in the textile industry throughout the value chain, including after purchase, to promote circularity (Adisorn et al., 2021).  

The Concept of the Digital Product Passport

The objective of this paper is to review the current state of the textile industry and new regulations with a view to developing a data model for the PNP. Our methodology is divided into three stages:  

 

1- Assess the current state of the industry by collecting information about textile products online and in-store, including details at the time of purchase, labeling, displays and digital passports of the product, the where appropriate, for a representative sample of the industry.

2- Establish a baseline requirement for future transparency by exploring current bills and laws at national and European levels regarding transparency and traceability in the textile industry. 

3- Formulate recommendations for a DPP data model that would encompass all future legislation and support a circular economy for fashion. 

Evolution of transparency in the fashion industry

The behavior of fashion consumers is evolving towards a desire for informed decision-making, based on adequate information. They seek radical transparency, including information on the origin of products, their environmental impact, employee working conditions, production costs, customs duties and profit margins (The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company, 2019).  

Data from four consecutive fashion transparency indices (2017-2020) show that brands are becoming increasingly transparent (Jestratijevic et al., 2021). These indices compare sustainability reporting across five areas, including policies, governance, traceability, audits and issues. They highlight an improvement in transparency within the fashion industry.  

Research methodology

Based on the definitions of corporate transparency and product transparency, a study was conducted to assess current brand practices. The study focused on a representative sample of 54 brands, divided into luxury, premium, sport and mass market categories, accessible in France online and in stores, and involved in the Fashion Pact.  

 

To evaluate the transparency of the company, criteria such as the disclosure of the names of suppliers, their sustainability conditions, the purchasing practices of the purchasing companies, the CSR report, the publication of the list of suppliers and the environmental commitments and social issues were taken into account. 

 

To assess product transparency, information on the traceability of specific products was sought, including the origin of raw materials, country of manufacture, name of supplier or factory, certification of materials and others aspects related to environmental and social impact. 

 

This data model allows us to bring together information relating to products, processes and stakeholders to allow all circularity actors to collect and use it. Our data model for PNP in the fashion industry allows us to evaluate three current schemes. This assessment leads to the formulation of recommendations intended to improve the content of the sector's PNPs.