Inescop anticipates the European digital passport with a “more ambitious” project: “It will allow the creation of a stronger industry”


The Inescop footwear technology center is working on the development of a standardized protocol as a “footwear ID” so that the consumer, before purchasing it, can know if the product they are interested in is truly sustainable throughout its production chain and if It is manufactured in good working conditions.

In a context in which the population is increasingly aware of caring for the environment, the objective of the ‘PASS4SHOES’ project, financed by the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (Ivace) and Feder funds, is to “empower the consumer” and “give him the informed decision” about which footwear to choose, “because many times, when we go to buy, we are used to seeing that a product is sustainable, without having anything behind it that can be verified,” they explained to Europe. Press project researchers Borja Mateu and Adri├ín Amat.

Faced with this, Inescop proposes a standardized protocol that ensures traceability, which will cover “from how the oil is extracted to make the polymer, the plastic that will then be the sole”, to “where it will be recycled” and how many of its components can be integrated into the circular economy.

The idea is that the footwear has a QR code or chip and that the buyer can read, for example on their mobile phone, the information about the product, “where it was manufactured, if it has recycled content, what its carbon footprint is” or if it is recyclable, because many times we say that a shoe is recyclable or that a bottle is recyclable, but we really have to ensure that in a common way.

The protocol will facilitate the transition to the Digital Product Passport on which the European Commission is working and anticipates consumer-oriented regulations, establishing standard bases. The EU’s objective is to apply this tool in 2030. “It represents a radical change in the way in which we have to ensure the traceability and logistics of all materials,” he noted.

Furthermore, according to Mateu, the Valencian project is “more ambitious” — “we believe that we can get much more out of it,” he commented — because it even proposes that, when the product reaches the recycling plant, it can be used there. know its composition, what chemicals it contains and what can be recycled. They may also include parameters on the durability of the product.

“We believe that this project can benefit the Valencian and European industry and meet the product recycling objectives,” commented the researchers.

“When we talk about sustainability, we understand it as economic, environmental and social,” commented the researcher, before pointing out that the first is the only one that is fulfilled in all products on the market. “In the face of this, we are forgetting about social sustainability, we have to see that all the conditions of the workers involved in the value chain are fair, their salaries and contracts. All this will be reflected in the digital passport,” he said. indicated.

Inescop researchers are working to establish metrics with which to independently and transparently evaluate companies’ practices.

Regarding environmental aspects, the main indicators that the protocol on which Inescop works will include are the carbon footprint throughout the value chain, “since the raw material has been extracted”; the percentage of recycled material in its components and the subsequent “recyclability” of the product, among others.

On the contrary, among the main indicators that should set off consumer alarms about how footwear has been manufactured, researchers have highlighted the presence of certain chemical substances “without a certificate, an analysis and a test” that guarantee that this product It is safe for people and the environment.

“The footwear value chain contains a lot of industry, each one specialized, who manufactures the buckles, the laces, the leather, the textile… All of this concludes in a final company that puts the product on the market, and will be in charge to comply with the digital passport, but it is essential to have all these actors,” Mateu detailed.

For this reason, those responsible for PASS4SHOES collaborate directly with five companies and are holding working meetings with different companies in the sector, both footwear brands, component manufacturers, chemical formulators and waste managers, as well as footwear associations and companies. technological, up to 20 companies indirectly.

In these groups, they try to “unify the criteria proposed in the project, put them on the ground so that they become a reality and that tomorrow, for the European Digital Passport, there will be bases and a standard.”

“Today you know which companies are socially responsible because they themselves say so, but those that do not say so are because they are not. Well, all of this can be known with the digital passport. In fact, it will serve as a way for everyone to compete in a fairer way,” commented the researcher.

The initiative will be a competitive advantage if companies meet high sustainability standards. “Everything can be an advantage or a disadvantage,” acknowledged Mateu, who highlights the opportunity to “position oneself compared to other brands by being more transparent,” since “we all like to see that what we buy meets certain minimums, is safe for people and for the planet.

Furthermore, Inescop highlights that making the information available “will allow us to create a stronger, more resilient industry, because it will greatly favor returning to manufacturing locally, since working conditions are better and sustainability improves.” regarding bringing manufacturing from outside.

Those responsible for the Valencian project will attend the Futurmoda event, which will be held on October 18 and 19 at IFA Alicante, giving a talk on the digital passport, with the intention of involving “as many companies as possible”, under the premise of that “more companies have a say” in this process.