The report titled ‘Empowering citizens for garment longevity’ explains how technology can be used to help address critical challenges faced by the fashion industry, including the issue of low garment usage and the tendency to place blame on consumers for their high consumption rates.
The overarching conclusion of the report emphasises the significance of technology and digitalisation in the entire lifecycle of garments, with the ultimate goal of extending their usability.
According to the Environmental Audit Committee less than 1% of garments are recycled globally at the end of their life. Cleaning brand Vanish, which supports the report, states the primary reason for clothing being discarded in the UK is that items become worn out due to being made from a poor material or a lack of understanding on how to give proper garment care.
To tackle this issue, the report shows that research and industry collaboration is crucial. It says stakeholders must focus on addressing consumer practices and integrating digital tracking systems to align with technological innovations and upcoming regulatory demands.
How to use digitalisation and education to extend consumers’ clothing lifecycle
- Existing technologies such as RFID tags and QR codes need to be leveraged to provide necessary information and instructions on how to prolong the life of clothes
- Provenance and traceability information, as well as instructions on sustainable laundering and how to repair, recycle and dispose of clothes should also be included in QR codes.
- RFID and NFC technology will enable washing machines to detect what type of material the garment is made of, and suggest relevant wash and dry cycles with correct detergent usage
- Digital product passports will be on all regulated products according to the European Green Deal
- High quality data is needed from across the supply chain, which is certified and applied against a set of universal standards.
By providing consumers with accurate information on the product provenance and equipping them with the tools for proper care, the report suggests there will be a stronger emotional connection to the clothing. This, in turn, will pave the way for a shift from the current linear take-make-dispose model to seeing fashion as sharing economy based on service.
Commenting on the report, BFC’s chief executive Caroline Rush said she’s pleased enthusiasm with the actionable steps outlined toward reducing the fashion industry’s environmental footprint and added: “Garment care is essential and encompasses crucial elements; traceability coupled with engaging storytelling will enable consumer change and sustainable consumption. We look forward to international and governmental coordination with all stakeholders across the fashion value chain, to set this change in motion.”
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The report forms an essential part of Phase 2 of the Circular Fashion Ecosystem Project, which aims to drive sustainability and circularity in the fashion industry.