Guest contribution • 02.08.2021

Digital Care Labels: Show eco-consumers you mean business

Why fashion should allow consumers to take part in their garment’s circularity story

Clothing brands are actively seeking ways to lighten their environmental impact. It’s shocking that, on average, 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases are produced per kilogram of fabric, and in North-West Europe alone, around 4.7 million tonnes of post-consumer textile waste is generated every year. Less than one percent of fibres used to make garments are recycled into new clothing. 

There’s been progress around reducing plastic packaging, and sourcing more sustainable and organic products. But to truly cut waste and reduce the sector’s extensive carbon footprint, we need to build full circularity into the fashion ecosystem. Finding ways to recycle garments rather than dump them in a landfill is a green prize worth fighting for. 

Woman wearing a white blouse smiles at the camera
Sarah Swenson, Global Senior Sustainability Manager, Avery Dennison
Source: Avery Dennison

Intelligent care labels tell the garment’s story

One strategy is for retailers and brands to commit to using the garment’s label itself as a mechanism to engage shoppers in the decision to recycle. At Avery Dennison, we believe digital triggers – for instance QR codes on care labels and RFID tags for retailers – hold the key. They’re a bridge, allowing consumers to check garment history and composition so everyone can easily access the information on how and where to recycle items. 

By scanning a QR code on a dress with a smartphone, product data opens in an app to provide the owner all the post-purchase information they need. Garment recyclers can verify the fiber composition which is essential for their processes, while resellers will be able to confirm authenticity. And of course, with QR codes on intelligent care labels, brands can track the volumes of inventory going back into the circular economy, and monitor how effectively they are paring down their carbon footprint. 

Avery Denison recently launched a pilot project with LA-based recycler Ambercycle, which creates virgin quality yarn from old polyester clothes. The partnership involves Avery Dennison’s Digital Care Labels being attached to Ambercycle’s garments – in this case, a range of recycled T-shirts. The labels feature a QR code that links to an app offering a digital ‘post purchase experience’ run by Avery Dennison’s new atma.io connected product cloud. It’s effectively a digital ID, detailing how that specific garment was produced and how it should be looked after, and recycled. 

Incentivising consumers

Will recycled clothes be cheaper for consumers? Will retailers pay for old clothes traded in? It will be interesting to see if such incentives appear. Brands will likely only start seeing major financial benefits from the post-consumer recycling process when commercial-scale automated systems are properly set up to process post-consumer textiles back into new garments. At that stage, they would be smart to share some of those cost savings with consumers. 

As supply chain partners build new commercialised systems, the circular recycling process will become competitive with the linear consumption system, especially as risks to raw materials occur ever more frequently in supply chains these days. 

Bags filled with old clothing
Source: Avery Dennison

Scaling infrastructure to support circularity

Investment in textile recycling plants is happening, but we need integrated data to support the journey to circularity. Today, sorters have to manually separate materials into hundreds of categories or use infrared technologies to make assumptions on garments compositions. But putting a digital trigger such as a RFID label or QR code on a garment to hold standardised data, allows reverse logistic partners to automate the sorting process. 

Worldwide there is a legal requirement for all garments to carry care labels, and digitising these seems a logical place to connect a garment’s owner with all the data that will lead to reuse. Young consumers are comfortable using smart phone apps, and familiar with scanning technology, so adoption should not be problematic for eco-conscious consumers.  

The Avery Dennison project's ambition is that one hundred percent of the clothes made with Ambercycle’s materials get turned into new garments at the end of their life. More broadly, the project showcases how these Digital Care Labels help consumers, retailers and recyclers unlock the potential of a truly circular fashion economy. 

Author: Sarah Swenson, Avery Dennison

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Cash versus cashless: payment attitudes of European consumers...
06.05.2021   #coronavirus #smartphone

Cash versus cashless: payment attitudes of European consumers

Contactless payment methods are gaining importance, but cash has not yet been written off

In 2019, the European Central Bank (ECB) conducted a study on the payment attitudes of consumers in the euro area. The study called SPACE assesses consumers’ use of cash and non-cash payment instruments at the level of each participating euro ...

Thumbnail-Photo: One-third of consumers will increasingly use buy online, pickup-in store...
13.04.2021   #coronavirus #services

One-third of consumers will increasingly use buy online, pickup-in store services

Consumer surveys on order pick-up preferences and BOPIS

The global pandemic has drastically changed consumer behaviors – most notably, the way in which we shop. In fact, U.S. ecommerce sales increased more last year than they have in the past two decades – and Buy Online, Pickup In-Store ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Magical shopping experience
10.06.2021   #customer satisfaction #app

Magical shopping experience

Finally Harry Potter fans can visit the official Harry Potter flagship store New York City

Harry Potter New York will set a new standard for themed retail, combining breath-taking design, exquisite craftsmanship, hand-crafted props, exciting interactive elements and exclusive products - inviting fans to experience the Wizarding World in a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: It takes two: closing the sustainability-attitude behavior gap in fashion...
18.05.2021   #online trading #sustainability

It takes two: closing the sustainability-attitude behavior gap in fashion

Zalando wants customers to keep sustainabilty in mind

Recently, Zalando published a report sharing consumer insights and recommendations on how to close the sustainability attitude-behavior gap in fashion. Therefore, Zalando launched a value-based browsing experience and further invested in Pre-owned ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Gen Z shopping journeys start on Social Media...
28.05.2021   #online trading #e-commerce

Gen Z shopping journeys start on Social Media

Findings reveal generational shopping preferences: purchases are mostly made on third-party websites

Leading digital experience platform provider Optimizely (formerly Episerver) today announced new survey data revealing the nuanced preferences of Gen Z and Millennial consumers as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. The survey, which polled 1,000 ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Exploring fashion in a different way
17.06.2021   #sustainability #fashion

Exploring fashion in a different way

Museum Pass holders can visit the Fashion for Good Museum in Amsterdam for free

Museum Pass holders can visit the Fashion for Good Museum for free – good news now that all museums can physically open their doors again! After the registration with the Museum Register at the end of last year, the registration with the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New type of pedestrian drive
14.06.2021   #e-commerce #customer satisfaction

New type of pedestrian drive

Carrefour partners with La Poste to launch the Pickup drive

Carrefour has teamed up with La Poste via its subsidiary Pickup to create a new nationwide partnership to launch a new Pedestrian drive business model. Henceforth, customers will be able to visit “Pickup drives” to access several local ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Reusable pop-up store
07.07.2021   #brick and mortar retail #sustainability

Reusable pop-up store

PANGAIA showcases high-tech naturalism at The Selfridges Corner Shop

In spring of this year PANGAIA offered its customers an extraordinary shopping experience. For the first time, customers were able to visit the PANGAIA pop-up store in The Selfridges Corner Shop, which was designed to literally guide them through ...

Thumbnail-Photo: More than just a technical gimmick: augmented reality in retail...
05.05.2021   #e-commerce #brick and mortar retail

More than just a technical gimmick: augmented reality in retail

How to bring your retail space to your customer's home

When the shop doors have to remain closed due to pandemic regulations and customers switch to online offerings, the digital shopping experience from smart devices should be made as eventful as possible. This is where the use of artificial ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Employment situation in the U.S. in June 2021 due to Corona pandemic...
20.07.2021   #brick and mortar retail #retail

Employment situation in the U.S. in June 2021 due to Corona pandemic

Worse numbers compared to pre-pandemic level but recovery is in progress

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 850,000 in June 2021 compared to May, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, public ...

Supplier

Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
Navori Labs
Navori Labs
Rue du lion d'or 4
1003 Lausanne