Legislation

Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)

May 7, 2024

How to get ESPR compliant as a fashion company

In the ever-evolving sustainability landscape, the fashion industry finds itself at a crucial intersection of innovation and responsibility. With consumers increasingly demanding eco-friendly practices and products, brands are challenged to reevaluate their production processes and materials.

In this pursuit, governments worldwide are enacting regulations to ensure environmental accountability, with the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) emerging as a pivotal force in shaping the future of fashion.

In this article we will cover the main requirements of the Ecodesign legislation, giving a hands-on overview and legislation timeframes for fashion companies as date of May 2024.

Understanding the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)

Envisioned as a comprehensive framework to promote circularity and reduce environmental impact, the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation targets a wide array of consumer goods, including textiles and apparel in the European Union.

Building upon previous initiatives, this regulation sets ambitious standards for material selection, end-of-life considerations and product design, which determines up to 80% of a product's lifecycle environmental impact.

Ecodesign includes requirements such as product durability, repairability, reusability, upgradability, reparability, ease of maintenance, removal of substances inhibiting circularity, energy and resource efficiency, recycled content, re-manufacturability and recyclability, carbon and environmental footprints, and information requirements including a Digitial Product Passport. 

Key Provisions of the ESPR

  • Material Innovation: The regulation incentivizes the use of sustainable materials and encourages innovation in textile production, pushing for the adoption of technologies that minimize resource consumption and pollution. A mandatory report on quantities of unsold goods and what happens to them (i.e. donated, remanufactured, recycled) comes into force together with the ban on unsold stock destruction making it illegal to intentionally damage or discard products as waste.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Brands are held accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products, from manufacturing to disposal. This entails implementing take-back schemes, facilitating recycling, and investing in closed-loop systems to ensure materials are repurposed rather than ending up in landfills.
  • Energy Efficiency: Recognizing the significant carbon footprint of fashion manufacturing, the regulation promotes energy-efficient processes and facilities. It encourages the adoption of renewable energy sources and the optimization of production methods to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Transparency & Traceability: Brands are required to provide comprehensive information regarding the environmental footprint of their products, including details on materials, production techniques, and supply chain practices. It empowers consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and holds companies accountable for their sustainability claims. This should be implemented through Digital Product Passports (DPP), which are on-product data carriers (i.e. a QR code or RFID tag) that provide information about products’ environmental sustainability.

Who will be affected?

The ESPR will impact all businesses that place goods on the EU market whether produced inside or outside the EU. This could affect manufacturers, brands and retailers (be they inside or outside the EU) as well as those distributing products through online marketplaces.

These businesses will need to ensure that:

  • Their products meet the Ecodesign requirements set out in the regulation
  • Their products have a Digital Product Passport, as well as the necessary hardware, software and traceability to capture and provide the data
  • Systems to quantify levels of unsold stock, and traceability systems to evidence what is done with these products
If you are impacted book a demo with our Sustainability Success Team here!

Legislative Timeline of the ESPR 

The proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), published on 30 March 2022, is the cornerstone of the EU Commission’s approach to more environmentally sustainable and circular products under the EU Green Deal.

The proposal builds on the existing Ecodesign Directive, which currently only covers energy-related products. The ESPR is based on, and will ultimately replace, the current Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC.

On 23rd of April 2024, the Parliament adopted the revised Ecodesign framework, which will enable the introduction of environmental sustainability requirements for most products sold in the EU. The Council must approve the law before it can come into force formally.

Products will have to comply with performance and information requirements set in a Delegated Act after the main ESPR Law is formally approved. The first delegated acts are foreseen in 2024 with the adoption of the first working plan in early 2025 for priority sectors such as textiles (garments & footwear), iron, steel and aluminum.

The ESPR further provides that companies will have at least 18 months after a delegated act is adopted to begin compliance, meaning the first date by which compliance may be required is likely to be 2027.

Standards for the Digital Product Passport (DPP) are foreseen to be finalized end of December 2025 with a transition period for the industry to adapt until 2027. The reporting obligations for the destruction of unsold goods begin in 2025 and compliance obligations will take effect from 2026 for apparel and footwear.

In the meantime, it’s important to understand the impacts this regulation has on fashion companies and start preparing for it. Subscribe to our LinkedIn Newsletter to stay in the know of further developments.

Impact on the Fashion Industry

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation heralds a paradigm shift in the fashion industry, prompting brands to rethink their approach to design, production, and consumption. While compliance may present initial challenges, the long-term benefits are manifold:

  • Competitive Advantage: Brands that proactively embrace sustainability stand to gain a competitive edge, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers and fostering brand loyalty.
  • Innovation Catalyst: The regulation incentivizes innovation across the supply chain, driving investment in sustainable materials, technologies, and processes. This spurs creativity and fosters collaboration between industry stakeholders, paving the way for transformative change.
  • Environmental Stewardship: By prioritizing eco-friendly practices and reducing waste, the fashion industry can mitigate its environmental impact and contribute to global sustainability goals. From reducing water consumption to curbing pollution, every step towards compliance is a step towards a greener future.

Navigating the Road Ahead

As the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation comes into effect, fashion industry professionals must adapt swiftly to meet its requirements. This entails:

  • Education and Training: Equipping teams with the knowledge and skills needed to implement sustainable practices is paramount. Investing in training programs and partnering with sustainability experts can facilitate the transition toward compliance.
  • Collaboration and Innovation: Embracing a collaborative mindset is essential for navigating the complexities of sustainability. Engaging with suppliers, manufacturers, and policymakers fosters dialogue and fosters collective action toward shared goals.
  • Use of technology: From product design and manufacturing to distribution and end-of-life management, technology can assist sustainability managers in their sustainability efforts effectively.

How to get compliant with the ESPR

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) sets a framework to improve the environmental sustainability of products and their circularity with textiles being a priority. National and international companies selling in the EU market will have to comply with the Ecodesign requirements and showcase their product impacts via Digital Product Passports.

These requirements by soon-in-law represent a dividing moment for the fashion industry, challenging stakeholders to rethink their production methods. Textile companies can best prepare for the ESPR implementation by adopting a proactive Ecodesign approach.

This is not an easy maneuver but we are here to help: 

  • Sustainable Brand Platform’s SaaS solution, specifically designed for the fashion industry, helps fashion companies to automate the calculation of environmental KPIs and accurately set and hit impact reduction targets.
  • Our software streamlines data sharing across textile companies, manufacturers and brands, enabling the adoption of Ecodesign, AGEC and other EU regulations.
  • Through conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) on our platform, fashion companies can assess their product impacts, identify improvement areas for Ecodesign and credibly use the results for mandatory reporting.
  • Through the use of our automatically generated Product iD Cards, which function as Digital Product Passports, fashion companies can showcase their product impacts and journeys on hangtags, websites and in stores.
Ready to get compliant with the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation? Get in touch with us! 

Sources

Katharina Lahner
Together with the Sustainability Success Team of Sustainable Brand Platform, Katharina is communicating the importance of data and collaboration in the fashion industry; matching the industry's needs for minimizing its environmental impacts with SBP's fashion-specific SaaS solutions.

Continue reading

Ready to start?

Get in touch with us today to become part of a collaborative ecosystem for a data driven fashion industry.


SBP Srl
Viale La Playa 15, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
IVA 11067270964
Subscribe to our newsletter