POSITIVE IMPACT AWARDS: Avery Dennison Advances Responsible Technology

If some 10 billion products in the apparel, accessories and footwear market are currently being individually digitally connected, and the ability to locate items is just one of the benefits that will surface, Avery Dennison is positioned perfectly.

For this year’s Positive Impact Awards, Avery Dennison was chosen for Industry Leadership in Advancing Responsible Technology for tracking long-term impacts to environment, waste, human rights and more. From RFID technology to key fashion collaborations that get connectivity in the headlines, Avery Dennison is working towards sustainability goals that the industry is noticing.

Forbes has written that as our physical wares come with digital applications accessible via our phones, “we will indeed be able to find our shoes when we’ve lost them, but also do such things as figure out how to wash clothes properly, look for style tips on how to wear items, even search for how to buy a new version of the same piece. In fact, the limitations of what’s possible lie entirely in the hands of the brands whose products will now have such digital identities, and not the partners facilitating it.”

It will be interesting to see how brands will continue to use Avery Dennison’s smart-product platform moving forward.

We caught up with Julie Vargas, Director of Digital Solutions and Brand Protection at Avery Dennison to learn more about the company and the good work being done.

The RFID technology you’ve created to connect to the IoT in fashion and better traceability and responsible technology is pretty impressive. How do you see consumers interfacing with it now and in the future? Janela I’m sure being a big part of that.

As the world around us becomes connected digitally, we will be increasingly empowered to know more about the products we use and buy. Technology enables us to give physical products a digital life to capture and share information. Consumers will continue to connect to this internet of things via their mobile device for everything from information to entertainment. By enabling connection on garment, we can unlock item level information about the materials used, how it was made and where it was made. We can also communicate valuable information that shows where and how brands are committed to building a sustainable fashion industry. This complete transparency will empower consumers to make sustainable choices in what they buy and wear and which brands they support. Most importantly, it will bring consumer awareness to the environmental and societal impacts of their choices.

How do you see something like RFID helping to help solve environmental challenges in both the fashion and even food industry you are working in? (saw on your site the links to both and looking at water usage, waste etc).

Item level RFID can have a tremendous impact on reducing waste and overages in the supply chain. In order to service the on demand expectations of consumers, many industries overproduce and oversaturate their supply chains to make sure they don’t miss a sale. With RFID, you can drive accuracy and visibility at an item level which means you know exactly what you produce and exactly what you have where. In the fashion industry, this means you can fulfill orders with confidence from a variety of locations, drive more accurate buy quantities and reduce markdowns. By managing production and inventory more efficiently, food waste can also be avoided. Implementing RFID to drive accuracy and visibility can have significant positive impact on the environment (and profits!) by reducing overproduction in all industries.

I know Rebecca Minkoff and Rochambeau are two (of many) brands you have already worked with regarding tracking and connectivity. Is there a more engaging way you are seeing brands marketing this to consumers?

It is a disruptive time in the retail industry and many brands and retailers are looking for new ways to drive experiences and engagement that are both personal and relevant. Unlike mass digital campaigns or social media channels, a Janela connected product has the opportunity to drive a personalized experience based on the customer location, profile and preferences. The digital profile becomes a design element that can help brands and retailers communicate information, build communities and provide experiences. It can also improve the shopping experience in store by providing the consumer with inventory availability, recommendations, reviews and self checkout through the garment directly. For sustainability and transparency, the garment becomes a valuable communication channel to influence purchasing decisions at the industry level.

Your 2025 goal is to be 95 percent landfill-free and to reuse, recycle or repurpose at least 75 percent of your waste. What are some things you are doing now to get there?

As a major purchaser of paper globally, we are working to increase the use of FSC certified paper products to drive more sustainable forestry across the industry. We are also working to reduce our energy footprint by sourcing renewable power and procuring renewable energy certificates. Reducing waste is also a key focus and we are facilitating the creation of global recycling infrastructure. We have over 50 sites that are operating landfill free and we have already diverted 91% of our solid waste from landfills.

RSVP for the Positive Impact Awards here.