TRICK European Project – Traceability with the Blockchain to promote the circular economy and sustainability in the textile and food industry

Funded by the European Community under the Horizon 2020 framework program, the TRICK project “Empower Circular Economy with Blockchain data traceability” started last May 2021 with a consortium made up of 29 partners including companies, associations, research centers and non-profit organizations from 12 European and non-EU countries. The project, coordinated by Lanificio Fratelli Piacenza Spa, has as its object the development of a solution, supported by blockchain technology, at the service of the circular economy for the textile and fashion sector.

In fact, “TRICK” was born with the idea of ​​tracing through the blockchain the entire path that an item of clothing takes, from the raw material to the end of life when it is recycled to be transformed back into raw material.

The project will have a duration of 42 months and in this time frame a platform for the management of traceability will be created which will guarantee the sustainability of the processes and the quality and healthiness of the materials.

Several issues are addressed by the project: Certification of Preferential Origin (PCO), assessments relating to the environmental impact of the product (PEF), consumer protection against the use of dangerous chemicals, certification of worker protection and anti-counterfeiting requirements.

The Italian Customs is one of the partners participating in the project, particularly interested in the technology developed by TRICK to speed up customs processes with preferential origin and for its anti-counterfeiting activities and fight against Greenwashing, that is the phenomenon in which the environmental and social sustainability characteristics of the product are advertised in a fraudulent manner.

A second important aspect relates to the recovery from the supply chain of the information necessary to ensure a better reuse of the product fibers at the end of its life and therefore a higher circularity. The use of the Blockchain in this context is innovative, as two blockchains are foreseen, one private and one public: one of the objectives of the project will be interoperability between Blockchains aimed at the portability of data from one to the other (which today does not happen) so that they can be transferred between the different actors of the supply chain and between different software without losing reliability.

The pilot project will start in the textile sector and will subsequently be replicated in the agri-food sector.

ENEA is involved in the project with the two laboratories TERIN-SEN-CROSS and SSPT-USER-RISE, responsible for the activities relating to the issues relating respectively to standards, traceability and interoperability and to the evaluation of the environmental impact of products and circular economy.

The involvement of ENEA will guarantee project continuity with respect to the eBIZ standardization initiative for the exchange of data in Textile, Clothing and Footwear, which will thus be strengthened, and specific attention to the UNECE initiative for traceability for transparent and sustainable Fashion’s supply chains.

In particular, within the TRICK project an extension of the eBIZ specifications will be developed in order to support data collection for traceability and for the objectives of supporting TRICK services (Certification of preferential origin, circularity, calculation of PEF, Health of the consumer, ethical and social sustainability and the fight against counterfeiting). This is an important extension that will add new application scenarios to the eBIZ specifications allowing for event and certification management.

More info:

Project Coordinator: Alessandro Canepa alessandro.canepa@piacenza1733.it

ENEA Contact point

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A policy brief on the topic of standardization from the TRICK project

The first phase of the TRICK project activities ended last January and 4 policy briefs relating to the first results of the project were published, including the one with the definition of a framework based on the UNECE methodology, on the semantic reference standards (CEN CWA eBIZ, UNECE UN / CEFACT) and on the PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) for PEF studies relating to the environmental impacts of products.

An important implication that arises from the results of this first phase is the one relating to the dissemination and adoption of semantic standards and reference specifications. In fact, one of the objectives of the TRICK project is to improve the digitization of business processes in the fashion and food supply chains, through the adoption and use of standards.

In this context, the TRICK project will contribute to the further development of the eBIZ specifications, adapting them to the new needs related to a sustainable and circular approach of the Fashion supply chains. Once this activity is completed, the results will be presented to EURATEX (which takes care of their management) and possibly also to CEN, the European Standardisation Committee. A further contribution could also be made to the UN/CEFACT results currently being tested.

The recommendations for policy actions aimed at allowing the exploitation of the “Roadmap from linear to circular”, main result of this first phase of the project activities, have been summarized in the following Policy briefs and related posts on the project website:

  • D1.1 Ways to circular value chains – read the Policy Brief and News Post
  • D1.2 How will the TRICK platform support policies to promote circularity on the textile, clothing and food value chains in Europe? – read the Policy Brief and News Post
  • D1.3 Establishing legal and technical frameworks for the TRICK platform towards a circular economy – read the Policy Brief and News Post
  • D1.4 How can standards facilitate the setting up and management of sustainable SMEs supply chains? – read the Policy Brief and News Post

The fashion industry faces the challenge of the ‘EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles’

 

The European Commission has delivered on March 30th 2022 a communication about the EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles (COM(2022) 141)[1] . It is a strategic statement that will fully deploy its effects within the next 4-6 years but that outlines an important and challenging path for the EU manufacturing industries and markets.

The starting point are few statements about the environmental impact of the fashion products (from the Communication):

–         since 2000 up to 2015 the global production of textiles has doubled and consumption of garments and footwear raised up to 62 million tonnes per year and it is expected to raise up to 103 millions by 2030;

–         since 1996, net of inflation, clothing prices have fallen by 30% but the average household expenditure has grown without benefiting from it, on the contrary.

–         in EU consumption of textiles accounts for the fourth highest negative impact on the environment and climate change

–         every year 5,6 tonnes of textiles are discarded in EU (mainly incinerated or landfilled), approximately 11kg per person.

Clothing represents the most relevant share of textile consumption (81%) but the trend of using garments for ever shorter periods before throwing them away contributes to “the most unsustainable patterns of over production and overconsumption”.[2]

According to the communication this requires more systemic solutions in line with the European Green Deal ambition to “make growth sustainable, climate-neutral, energy- and resource- efficient and respectful of nature, and built around a clean and circular economy”[3] because textiles is “a key product value chain with an urgent need and a strong potential for the transition to sustainable and circular production, consumption and business models”.

As a consequence the EU commission point out the need to undertake some initiatives that cannot postponed and will be implemented in the next few years, mostly though legislative actions already planned or on-going, and by setting:

–         mandatory Eco-design requirements (both on the side of the production, for example composition, treatments, chemicals…- but also on the side of usage, for example durability, reparability, fiber-to-fiber reusability…)

–         bans of the destruction of unsold production for large business players and responsibilities of the producers for the whole supply chain, up to the management of the waste; fostering business models and supply chains able to reduce waste and the product carbon footprint

–         reduction of the microplastic pollution, even from washing: today 40.000 tonnes of synthetic fibers are released by the only washing machines.

–         introducing Digital Product Passport with mandatory disclosure of information about circularity and sustainability (it will be detailed in the next years) and fight against false green claims with severe restriction about the conditions that allows any kind of green claims. Voluntary schemes like EcoLabel and PEF will play a relevant role as methods for implementing such strategy.

–         extended producer responsibility with eco-modulation of the fees; it will require a full traceability of the production processes and their impacts as well as designing the reuse of the product after its end of life.

–         other legislative provisions, addressing Green Public Procurement, revision of the Ecolabel, improvement of market surveillance, revision of the Fiber Regulation, etc.

Beyond this set of measures there will be an effort on trading regulations (by preventing importation of non-compliant products) and by looking for a new paradigm for fast changing fashion trends: the sentence “Driving fast fashion out of fashion” represents the sentiment of the Commission about the future of this segment of the fashion production. This objective will be pursued gradually but with decision: the Communication has an annexed implementation calendar with dates that do not go beyond 2024.

It is a set of relevant challenges that will be implemented in the coming years; the next steps will detail the requirements and ways of implementing these claims; this will happen through EU Directives or Regulations, not simply Recommendations to national legislators; therefore they will be binding indications and not mere recommendations.

Currently, a proposal for a regulation is under discussion for “the definition of a framework of eco-design requirements for sustainable products” (2022/0095 (COD) [2]). This proposal is under discussion and is related to a generic production of goods, it is not specific to textiles; in the coming years, delegated acts will detail the implementation and indicators to be adopted for each specific product category. However, the concepts of unique product identifier, product passport or ‘data carrier’ are outlined and will remain so in all derivative acts.

While waiting for these steps to mature, surely the industry must accelerate its preparation to meet these challenges: each of these new requirements requires a rethinking of the processes and relationships of the sector’s supply chains; digitization will play an important role in making them feasible and accessible even to small organisations.

The novelty, however, is a shift from the current scenario in which only few brands in higher market segments (and with higher profit margins) have put in place policies that address (some of) these challenges, on a voluntary and market-driven basis, towards a new scenario in which there will be mandatory requirements for any textile product, with the need for cheap and available IT infrastructures for all companies.

[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52022DC0141

[2] : this leaded to increase household expenditure on clothing while the prices has dropped down by 30% since 1996 (taking into account the inflation).

[3] 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan and 2021 update of the EU Industrial Strategy

[4] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52022PC0142

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