Digital Product Passports (DPP): what, why, and how?

Anna Zakrisson picture

Anna Zakrisson

CSO at iimpcoll


15 min

Digital Product Passports (DPP): what, why, and how?

Digital Product Passports (DPP) are vital in collecting and disseminating product information throughout a product's lifecycle. These passports contain key attributes that revolve around sustainability, environmental impact, and recyclability.

By capturing data from various stages of the supply chain, including raw material sourcing and manufacturing processes, the DPP fosters collaboration and may reveal unexpected benefits for stakeholders and participants, driving us toward a sustainable model of consumption. The recent introduction of the Circular Economy package by the European Commission signifies a significant turning point in driving this transition. One pivotal aspect of this package is the reformulation of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) legislation. The proposed Digital Product Passport is poised to become an indispensable tool for EU economies, supporting the promotion of sustainable production and consumption practices.

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Table of Contents

What is a digital product passport?

The recently developed "Digital Product Passport" provides a comprehensive overview of the environmental sustainability aspects associated with diverse products. Users can easily access valuable information by scanning a data carrier, including durability, reparability, recycled content, and availability of spare parts.

This tool empowers consumers and businesses to make well-informed purchasing decisions while streamlining repair and recycling processes. It enhances transparency regarding a product's environmental impact throughout its life cycle and enables key actors in the supply chain to identify crucial information about each product's composition. Consequently, waste management facilities can appropriately handle and recover valuable materials, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Digital Product Passport serves as a coordinated data solution and can also support public authorities in enhancing their inspection and control procedures.

In short, the primary objective of the Digital Product Passport (DPP) is to facilitate sustainable production, promote digital transformation, reveal new business prospects, assist consumers in making sustainable choices, and aid authorities in ensuring legal compliance. These fundamental goals emphasize the importance of the DPP in driving circularity and fostering a sustainable business ecosystem.

Logistics and digital product passports

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Why do we need Digital Product Passports?

The transition to a circular economy will be complex, but it also presents a lucrative opportunity, with projected economic benefits reaching $4.5 trillion by 2030. The European Green Deal (EGD) underscores the dual nature of this initiative, emphasizing not only environmental considerations but also the economic advantages of fostering resilient economies through sustainable resource utilization. Against the backdrop of COVID-19-induced disruptions, including uncertainties in resource markets and supply chain vulnerabilities, the significance of this aspect becomes even more apparent.

However, accomplishing the objectives of the EGD requires substantial changes in global and European economic resource flows. Presently, these flows predominantly follow a linear trajectory, from resource extraction and manufacturing to product use and eventual waste disposal, resulting in the loss of valuable resources. According to Eurostat, nearly 90% of material resources used within the EU are discarded following their initial use. Over the course of a decade, from 2008 to 2018, the consumption of "secondary raw materials" in the EU witnessed nominal growth, rising from 9.2% to 11.9%. This clearly illustrates that transitioning toward a circular economy not only offers an environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional consumption patterns but also introduces novel business models.

Adopting a more holistic approach to product design, production, distribution, usage, and collection allows for the circulation of products and materials along value chains while minimizing resource extraction, waste generation, and carbon emissions. Digital Product Passports (DPP) are tools to achieve this holistic view and thus serve as indispensable instruments in advancing the circular and climate-neutral economy.

Realizing circular economy solutions globally necessitates strong collaboration among suppliers and market players outside the EU. Without such cooperation, the integration of circular economy practices in industries may prove challenging, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The management of product data across global supply chains can be streamlined through the implementation of internationally recognized and open standards for product identification, data capture, and sharing. DPPs with associated standards is a tool to achieve this.

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What is the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)?

The Circular Economy Action Plan is one of the policies under the EU Green Deal, aiming to foster sustainability and empower consumers in making environmentally conscious choices. Among its initiatives is the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), which aims to establish sustainable products as the standard. An important policy instrument of the SPI is the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), which will introduce a digital product passport for regulated products and enhance transparency in the supply chain. Additionally, the ESPR may enforce restrictions on the destruction of unsold consumer goods. While the current ESPR covers approximately 30 product categories, the EU intends to broaden its scope by implementing more diverse Ecodesign criteria, which entails drafting new regulations and conducting comprehensive studies. These measures reflect the EU's commitment to a sustainable future in which products meet high environmental standards and drive positive change.

What is the purpose of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)?

In terms of energy savings alone, this new sustainable products framework has the potential to drive primary energy savings of approximately 132 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) by 2030. To put this into perspective, this figure represents roughly 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas, an amount nearly equivalent to the EU's import of Russian gas.

These numbers exemplify the significant positive impact that the proposed sustainable products framework can have in the pursuit of enhanced circularity, energy efficiency, and overall environmental sustainability across the European industry.

To foster sustainable resource flows, efficient supply chain management, and consumer empowerment, the ESPR is anticipated to incorporate measures that promote the adoption of Digital Product Passports (DPP). Comparable to individual national passports, DPPs will encompass vital details about a product's attributes and provenance. This information will streamline future product reuse and recycling endeavors. Moreover, DPPs will facilitate electronic registration, processing, and exchange of product-related data among supply chain networks, enterprises, regulatory bodies, and end-users.

Driven by various legislative acts and initiatives within the European Union, several industries have been prioritized as the initial adopters of Digital Product Passports. These industries include batteries and vehicles, textiles, electronics and ICT, furniture, plastics, construction, and chemicals. Although the final timeline is still under development, the first industry to implement DPPs (batteries) is anticipated to do so by 2026/7, with the others poised to follow suit by 2030.

My company is registered outside of the EU. Does my company still fall under the ESPR?

The regulations proposed under the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) will be applicable to all products available in the European Union market, regardless of their origin - whether produced within or outside the EU. ESPR is designed to comply with international trade regulations, and the European Union remains dedicated to collaborating with producing nations to enhance the sustainability of their products.

Furthermore, the EU will extend its support to partner countries and conduct comprehensive assessments to determine the potential impacts on third countries. In the pursuit of fostering greener products and facilitating sustainable investments, marketing, and compliance, the EU aims to engage in an open dialogue with international counterparts, resulting in the development of innovative measures such as the digital product passport. These initiatives are expected to minimize trade barriers and lower costs associated with environmentally friendly products and investments.

Who will be affected by the Digital Product Passports?

Digital Product Passports (DPP) are set to impact all brands and manufacturers significantly. For years, the highly intricate supply chains associated with complex products have been shrouded in opacity. However, the advent of DPP marks the end of that era. Henceforth, companies will be compelled to comprehensively understand the design, production, usage, and recycling phases of their products.

During the initial stages of implementation, numerous brands and manufacturers will be required to fundamentally reconsider their business practices, as well as their business partners. Nonetheless, the deployment of DPP will bestow crucial insights upon companies regarding their environmental footprint. Additionally, it will expedite the attainment of sustainability objectives and enable them to command a premium for products that are produced in a more responsible manner.

Moreover, the advantages of DPP will extensively benefit other stakeholders within the value chain:

  • Material suppliers will receive recognition for their transparent processes emphasizing environmental safety and worker welfare.
  • Repair professionals will gain access to comprehensive repair histories of products, including reasons for repair, thereby facilitating better diagnosis of new issues.
  • Recyclers, armed with detailed information on component and material compositions, will be able to optimize take-back programs and material recovery.
  • Furthermore, governments and public authorities will have a fresh set of standards and an easily accessible means of verifying compliance.
  • Lastly, consumers and end users will be better equipped to make informed purchasing decisions and cultivate sustainable behaviors, such as repair and recycling.
Manufacturing of complex parts

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What is the Digital Product Passport (DPP) timeline?

The DPPs will have a broad scope, encompassing at least 30 product categories. While adoption is staggered, the initial focus is on industrial and electric vehicle batteries. Although compliance is not mandatory until 2026, industry entities are already taking proactive measures to ensure adherence. Textiles and electronics will follow suit, with the CIRPASS consortium overseeing deployment roadmaps for all three sectors.

When do I need to produce Digital Product Passports for my products?

These are some key DPP dates that manufacturers should bear in mind:

What are the benefits/ROI of Digital Product Passports (DPPs)? As a manufacturer, you might look at DPPs as "another scary and enormous expense," but zooming out on the issue, there are many business opportunities associated with DPPs, and in the end, they create an ROI.

A more circular business with supply chain transparency is more future-proof, which is a huge plus in this fast-moving and increasingly unstable world.

These are a few of the benefits associated with DPPs (for more detailed information, see the following chapters):

  • Increased business data credibility.
  • Empowering consumers to make sustainable choices by improving transparency.
  • Improvements in data quality.
  • Facilitating the sharing of data and product information, promoting interoperability.
  • Improved sustainable design.
  • Improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.
  • Improving product value.
  • Minimizing disruptions in data flow along supply chains.
  • Contributing to economic growth by the discovery of opportunities through broader access to data on product use, origin, and supply chain characteristics.

How DPPs lead to increased business data credibility

The introduction of the Digital Product Passport (DPP) presents numerous benefits for consumers, industries, global commerce, and the environment. By establishing a direct link between the DPP and certification providers, consumers will perceive the accompanying certificates as highly credible and trustworthy. This will mitigate concerns regarding outdated or unverified eco-labels and sustainability certificates. Moreover, the DPP empowers consumers by providing them with a direct connection to certification agencies, granting them potential access to certificates. This transition from relying solely on printed packaging to a more transparent process aligns with the market's evolving needs and ensures utmost authenticity and accountability.

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How DPPs lead to improved consumer empowerment

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) contributes significantly to the development of a truly circular economy by empowering consumers. As individuals become more conscious of the environmental impacts of various products, they are more inclined to invest in sustainable alternatives and consider eco-labels when making purchasing decisions. A notable information gap currently persists between producers and consumers, making it challenging for consumers to access details regarding the sustainability of companies and products, especially given the limited time available for research. The implementation of DPPs holds the potential to revolutionize consumer empowerment by fostering enhanced transparency.

How DPPs can lead to improvement in data quality

Enhancing data quality can offer significant advantages to both governmental bodies and producers in attaining the objectives established by the European Union. These objectives primarily revolve around enhancing waste collection and recycling practices at the producer level. For governmental entities, the Digital Product Passports (DPP) can be a valuable instrument for standardization, potentially minimizing the necessity for extensive audits.

How DPPs improve the sharing of data and interoperability

One of the key benefits of DPPs is that they allow for more extensive communication with the supply chain and consumers and provide relevant data. For example, the DPP can serve as a platform for providing additional usage instructions, thereby enhancing product safety.

Additionally, it can include recycling and dismantling guidelines, promoting product reusability and waste reduction. The integration of traceability through the DPP also plays a crucial role in combating counterfeiting, which is particularly valuable for luxury goods producers and their discerning customers.

However, the benefits of the DPP extend far beyond these applications. The system offers a wide range of utilities that positively impact businesses and consumers. For instance, it facilitates targeted recalls without disrupting global value chains, which is particularly advantageous for electronics producers who can accurately identify and address faulty batches. Another significant advantage of the DPP is the increased sharing of data. By mandating a digital passport for products, producers are encouraged to improve the structure and quality of their data, resulting in smoother exchanges within complex value chains.

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How DPPs can lead to improved and sustainable design

The environmental impact data of a product can significantly influence its composition during the design phase. This ensures the efficient utilization of scarce and valuable resources as manufacturers will be well-informed about the materials used in production and their recyclability, as documented in each product passport.

Moreover, implementing Digital Product Passports (DPPs) can further facilitate Ecodesign efforts by promoting sustainable production practices and using recyclable materials.

The ability to trace a product's usage, including its duration, is pivotal in optimizing product development for its intended purposes. Furthermore, this valuable data can improve logistics and efficient resource management, including maintenance services, through just-in-time practices.

How DPPs can improve operational efficiency and reduce costs

Improving operational efficiency and reducing costs within your organization is obviously of utmost importance. Significant cost savings can be achieved by strategically streamlining internal and external product data transfer processes.

The complexity of managing vast amounts of information across multiple systems, coupled with the ever-growing regulatory requirements, can be overwhelming. Consequently, businesses increasingly rely on their supply chain partners to provide the necessary information, resulting in additional administrative burdens to collect and sort data.

To address these challenges, Digital Product Passports offer a well-organized solution. By consolidating product information, essential processes can be optimized while maintaining operational continuity. This eliminates the need to constantly adopt new software packages with each new regulation or standard release, as all compliance data is efficiently managed within the digital product passport.

How DPPs can improve product value

Digital Product Passports play a significant role in substantiating sustainability claims, ultimately enhancing the product's perceived value. By verifying the origins of materials and showcasing transparency in sourcing, companies can avoid potential issues like sourcing from conflict zones and mitigating quality concerns.

This not only builds trust with customers but also yields clear financial benefits, such as avoiding fines resulting from greenwashing. Consequently, integrating Digital Product Passports into business practices is essential for modern-day buyers seeking reliable and sustainable products.

How DPPs can minimize disruptions in supply chains

Supply chain transparency enables early identification of vulnerabilities and risks, allowing for prompt and targeted action to mitigate costly disruptions. Therefore, DPPs can effectively support businesses in reducing risks. By implementing supply chain transparency initiatives, organizations gain valuable insights into their supply chains, empowering them to proactively address potential issues. With the ability to identify vulnerabilities early on, businesses can take swift action to minimize the impact of disruptions, ultimately safeguarding their operations and bottom line.

DPPs act as a valuable tool in this risk reduction strategy, providing businesses with comprehensive visibility and traceability across their supply chains. With an array of data and information contained within these digital passports, businesses can quickly assess and address potential risks, ensuring seamless operations and optimized performance.

How DPPs can lead to new business opportunities

The DPP scheme can drive the development of new circular businesses by providing access to valuable product data in previously underserved markets. Notably, the proposed ESPR is projected to generate job opportunities within the reuse and repair sectors. The European Environmental Bureau has estimated that an additional 300,000 jobs could potentially be created.

By implementing Digital Product Passports, businesses can discover new revenue streams previously unattainable due to value chain disconnection. Rethinking value delivery to customers through circular practices is crucial. Taking greater responsibility for the product lifecycle enhances service quality, effectively preventing capital loss when products are deemed waste, as they retain value as assets throughout their use phase.

QR codes and Digital Product Passports

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What type of data is stored in a digital product passport?

One of the aims of Digital Product Passports (DPPs) is to revolutionize business data management. The EU has undertaken a thorough mapping exercise to define the data requirements for a standardized approach. This ambitious endeavor involves establishing uniform definitions and practices for data collection.

While the specifics are still being finalized, it is important to investigate potential components that may be included in a DPP. One critical aspect is the incorporation of basic product data, encompassing information such as product name, make, model, batch number, manufacturing date, and warranty details. These details serve as a fundamental basis for comprehensive traceability throughout the product's lifecycle.

Furthermore, material data is expected to play an integral role in DPPs. This includes essential information about the origins of raw materials and components, as well as details about the suppliers involved in the sourcing process. Tracking this data provides invaluable insights into a product's supply chain, enabling businesses to ensure transparency and accountability in their operations.

Ownership data also plays a significant role in DPPs, particularly for long-lasting products that can be resold. Maintaining comprehensive records of current and previous owners is crucial for establishing a thorough product history and ensuring efficient customer service.

By capitalizing on the potential advantages of DPPs, businesses can enhance their data management practices, promote transparency, and improve operational efficiency. Repair data is equally important, covering aspects such as the overall repairability of the product, specific repair events, and the reasons behind those repairs. Documenting this data offers valuable insights into common issues, enabling businesses to refine their manufacturing processes and enhance product quality.

Moreover, sustainability data represents a crucial pillar of DPPs. It provides essential information about the manufacturing and distribution processes' carbon footprint and the environmental impact during the product's use phase. With this data, businesses can make informed decisions and implement environmentally friendly practices throughout the product lifecycle.

How is data stored and accessed from a digital product passport?

A Digital Product Passport efficiently generates a digital representation of a physical product while securely logging event, transactional, and sustainability-related data throughout its lifespan. The digital replica is commonly associated with the physical product through QR codes, barcodes, or NFC tagging and can be accessed via a smart device application or similar means.

For instance, when consumers scan a QR code on a clothing label, they can instantly access the corresponding Digital Product Passport. This allows them to retrieve information regarding the product's sustainability credentials, ownership history, and proper recycling guidelines.

Data carriers are crucial for end-users to access the Digital Product Passport associated with a specific product in accordance with current EU guidelines. Organizations retain the autonomy to select the data carriers for individual, batch, or product types. Viable options for DPPs include:

  • QR Code: With widespread usage across diverse industries and sectors, QR codes offer durability and seamless connection to smart devices. They serve multiple purposes and are a favored choice.

  • Barcode: Similar to QR codes, barcodes primarily store product data, although they may not provide the same level of flexibility or functionality as QR codes. Direct user-webpage interaction for DPPs, for instance, may not be enabled.

  • NFC: NFC technology, commonly employed in contactless payment systems, is available on most modern smart devices. However, adopting NFC entails additional costs due to the need for standalone hardware devices equipped with embedded antennae and microchips, such as stickers. One advantage of NFC tags over QR codes and barcodes is the ability to install them within a product, thereby bolstering security measures.

At present, legislation and the scope of Digital Product Passports primarily revolve around collecting comprehensive data on a product's lifecycle. This enables insights into its sustainability, recyclability, and circularity. However, the possibilities expand when encompassing diverse data types. As a result, the concept of a digital replica and the technology behind the Digital Product Passport is not limited to specific markets, such as textiles and batteries, directly targeted at the European Union level. Instead, this technology is accessible to all businesses across industries. They can explore and leverage it for long-term business growth and customer value.

Numerous industries have already embraced Digital Product Passport technology to gain advantages in terms of transparency, traceability, and tradability.

The ability to streamline audits is paramount in ensuring compliance with regulations and standards. Presenting product data in a structured and machine-readable format significantly enhances the efficiency of these audits. The systematic and well-organized nature of such data also facilitates a quicker and smoother audit process.

Additionally, providing customers with a verified digital copy of your certification via the digital product passport strengthens your ability to substantiate claims regarding product impact and quality.

How does blockchain technology work for Digital Product Passports (DPP)?

The application of blockchain technology in implementing Digital Product Passports for product tracking from "cradle to grave" is gaining traction in the business world. This solution prioritizes accessibility for end-users, delivering significant advantages to both consumers and businesses.

A shared blockchain solution, managed by a third-party vendor, efficiently addresses the incentive problem by ensuring equitable distribution of the data ecosystem among stakeholders. By adopting blockchain-enabled digital passports, stakeholders can access consistent and authentic data with a high degree of data security.

Furthermore, these passports serve as an ideal platform for educating customers about sustainability. Leveraging blockchain tokenization allows businesses to incentivize sustainable behaviors and gamify the concept, leading to increased customer retention. Nonetheless, blockchains can pose significant challenges for organizations, particularly when it comes to scalability, speed, lack of universal standards, and, ironically, energy consumption.

Blockchains that utilize a proof-of-work system require substantial energy due to competition among nodes to solve complex equations to confirm blocks. As the network grows, more computer power is sought, leading to higher energy consumption. A solution proposed to address energy consumption is the proof-of-stake model. However, this alternative presents challenges of its own, such as increased complexity in code development.

In summary, though blockchains have great potential, they can also be problematic, especially due to their high energy consumption.

How can I collect data for a Digital Product Passport?

A multitude of data categories exist that can be gathered and exchanged throughout entire ecosystems and value chains, such as capturing and sharing various data categories, encompassing critical information such as product ID, manufacturer ID and location, batch numbers, reference numbers, weight/volume, and dates. This might be very challenging at times, as some data such as value chain GHG emissions might be costly and difficult to attain.

The following items are some key examples of broad data topics that can be captured in a DPP:

  • Source: This refers to the type and origin of raw materials and components used in the manufacturing and development of the product. It includes information about chemicals, plastics, ingredients, and substances used, as well as information about materials that have been previously recycled and recovered. Additionally, details about the sustainability of the manufacturing process itself and adherence to ethical practices can also be recorded and accessed. For example, consumers can validate the environmental claims of a company they are purchasing from.

  • Repairs: This includes details related to the repairability of a product and the repair events that have taken place throughout its lifecycle. It may involve information about the location/outlet that performed the repair, details about the repair itself, cost, and any additional notes that provide context for why the repair was needed. For instance, a luxury watch owner can record all the details of a repair on the associated digital Passport after accidental damage occurs.

  • Footprint: This category includes data that allows consumers to determine the carbon footprint profile and CO2 emissions associated with the manufacturing process, lifecycle, or product usage. It can provide details on energy consumption, emissions to water or air during manufacturing, and the recyclability of raw materials or product components. Essentially, the Digital Product Passport illustrates the resource consumption and environmental impact of the product.

  • Warranties: The digital versions of warranty, service, insurance, and guarantee documentation can be securely stored in a digital passport and accessed by all relevant parties. This digital Passport also includes details of expiry dates and repurchase data, empowering end-users to validate their claims and coverage. For instance, vehicle owners who have availed of a previously purchased free service package can validate their claims through the associated digital Passport, eliminating the need for standard administrative processes.

  • Ownership: The digital Passport contains comprehensive information about past and present owners of a particular product, including detailed ownership duration and a chronological event history. The level of ownership detail can be tailored based on specific use cases. For example, in the context of clothing and luxury goods resale, the digital Passport facilitates the transfer of ownership.

  • Instructions: The Digital Product Passport (DPP) stores instructions and protocols covering various topics such as disassembly and recycling procedures, proper product usage and operation, end-of-life and disposal guidelines, as well as repair and maintenance instructions. Additionally, it offers guidance on product reuse and remanufacturing.

As the technology of Digital Product Passports continues to evolve, its applications and use cases are expanding, depending on the type of data being collected. These passports offer a comprehensive audit trail of events and transactions throughout a product's lifecycle, benefiting manufacturers, consumers, re-sellers, and recycling entities.

Currently, the primary focus revolves around the sustainability, repairability, and recyclability of products, aligning with the concept of circularity. However, as more businesses delve into this technology and recognize its potential, the possibilities and opportunities associated with Digital Product Passports will expand.

How do ESG reporting and digital passports align?

You can bundle regulatory compliance documents within the digital product passport to facilitate seamless access and automated reporting. The usage of Digital Product Passports extends beyond industries with legal obligations; instead, they serve as a valuable tool for ensuring regulatory compliance across various regulated products.

Implementing a digital record as a central hub for exchanging product information enhances data transfer efficiency throughout the value chain. Leveraging Digital Product Passports for the automated sharing of compliance-related information transforms the present manual and reactive process of disseminating unverified data into a proactive and automatic approach to selective data sharing. The implementation of such a system not only enhances time-saving capabilities but also prevents human errors, instilling confidence in a scalable framework equipped to handle ever-growing regulatory demands.

This amplified collection and exchange of product-centric information among stakeholders along the value chain opens avenues for additional value-added services and applications. For instance:

  • Assessing supply chain compliance in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, including scope 3-reporting that encompasses upstream and downstream emissions within the value chain
  • Implementing AI-driven life cycle assessments
  • Facilitating corporate social responsibility reporting
  • Addressing compliance requirements becomes more efficient and strategic with the integration of Digital Product Passports, paving the way for enhanced business operations and industry collaboration.
Electronics and DPP

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Can Digital Product Passports protect against counterfeits?

Counterfeiting presents a significant challenge for a number of industries, particularly in industries like fashion (and, more seriously, medical products). Fortunately, the emergence of digital passports has revolutionized the authentication and ownership verification processes, all while safeguarding personal information.

Digital passports serve as a reliable method to swiftly and easily determine a product's authenticity. By combining these passports with the physical item, brands can effectively combat the counterfeit market. Nevertheless, their benefits extend beyond mere authenticity verification.

As the resale market continues to thrive, the need for an effective tool to authenticate second-hand goods becomes apparent. A digital passport offers precisely that. It empowers customers to validate the authenticity of their purchases before transferring ownership. Additionally, it creates new revenue streams for brands within the profitable resale market.

Factory GHG emissions - value chain Scope 3

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Which product categories need Digital Product Passports and why?

The Battery category will be the initial product segment legally obliged to adhere to the Digital Product Passport (DPP) by the year 2026. This will be followed by the inclusion of Apparel and Consumer Electronics shortly thereafter. The DPP will subsequently become mandatory for around 30 product categories, with the overall implementation timeline spanning from 2026 to 2030.

  • Batteries: Ongoing prototype development with an implementation target set for 2024. The associated regulation is the New EU Battery Regulation.
  • Textiles: Ongoing prototype development with an implementation goal set for 2024. The associated strategy is the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles.
  • Electronics: Ongoing prototype development with an implementation target set for 2024. The associated regulation is the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation.
  • Construction Products: The regulation was signed in 2022, and the implementation date is yet to be determined. The associated regulation is the Construction Products Regulation.
  • Other products: An announcement is expected in 2024, subject to the finalization of the Ecodesign of Sustainable Products Regulation.

DPPs for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE)

As emphasized by the European Commission, electrical and electronic equipment are the fastest-growing sources of waste in the European Union. These products often contain hazardous substances that can lead to soil pollution, groundwater contamination, and health risks for consumers. Moreover, electronics also house valuable rare-earth elements (REE) that are costly and commonly obtained through environmentally harmful extraction methods.

Circular solutions are crucial not only for financial reasons, such as recovering valuable resources and reducing the dependence on expensive imports of virgin REE, but they also play a vital role in environmental protection through demand reduction.

Over the years, the amount of EEE entering the EU market has risen from 7.6 million tons in 2011 to 8.7 million tons in 2018. Conversely, the collection of e-waste (WEEE) in 2018 was estimated at an average of 8.9 kg per person, resulting in a collection rate of 47%. Currently, only three Member States have achieved the new target of a 65% collection rate, which came into effect in 2019, according to Eurostat data (the present reference year).

DPPs for Batteries and accumulators

The global demand for batteries is projected to experience a steady 25% annual growth, with an estimated volume of 2,600 GWh by 2030. Batteries hold great significance in facilitating the transition towards low-emission electric vehicles and the decarbonization of the transport sector.

Regarding regulations, the Battery Directive constitutes the primary legislation governing battery production and disposal within the European Union (EU). Last updated in 2018, its overarching goal is to enhance environmental protection and quality. Specifically, it focuses on batteries containing hazardous elements such as mercury, cadmium, or lead, as these substances pose significant risks to both the environment and human health during incineration or landfilling processes. The directive sets precise limits on the maximum quantities of metals and chemicals permitted in batteries and outlines waste battery collection targets, along with the corresponding financial responsibility for collection and management. Moreover, it includes specific provisions related to recycling, calling upon Member States to submit annual reports on their recycling activities. While the directive provides guidelines for minimum recycling efficiencies based on battery types, it lacks a comprehensive recycling target.

In line with the European Commission's proposed Digital Product Passport, IT technologies such as the Battery Passport and interconnected data spaces play a crucial role in enhancing data sharing and transparency. Recognizing the importance of this sector, the EU prioritizes its alignment with the proposed Digital Product Passport by the European Commission.

While the Sustainable Batteries Regulation (SBR) primarily focuses on industrial and electric vehicle batteries in terms of secondary utilization and Digital Product Passport integration, the broader scope of the Ecodesign and Digital Product Passports Regulation indicates that, eventually, all batteries will need to meet these requirements. It is also worth noting that consumer batteries may come under consideration, given the potential extension to product-specific regulations.

DPPs for Food waste

The Proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation excludes the food sector from the product scope but has been analyzed for various reasons. Firstly, the proposed legislative framework for sustainable food systems (FSFS) is a significant initiative of the Farm to Fork Strategy and expects Commission approval by 2023-end. Its objective is to expedite the transition to sustainable food systems, enhance policy coherence at EU and national levels, and strengthen food system resilience.

Since the proposal covers packaging, introducing product passports exclusively for food product packaging without including the contents would be difficult. Additionally, the food sector is a critical value chain in the Circular Economy Action Plan and a priority product category for the circular economy in the European Commission's document "Sustainable Products in a Circular Economy."

Addressing food waste is crucial for global food security and environmental governance, with adverse effects on the environment (e.g., climate change, energy, water), economy (e.g., resource efficiency, cost increase, consumption, waste management, commodity markets), and society (e.g., health, equality).

The journey towards a sustainable food system encompasses the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aim to establish a sustainable food system. The Farm to Fork Strategy will introduce binding targets to reduce food waste across the European Union by 2023-end. To assist stakeholders in achieving this objective, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste was established in 2016. While some countries have implemented national policies and initiatives to combat food waste, there's still progress to be made. Both the EU and its Member States are fully committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of reducing food waste by 50% at the retail and consumer levels by 2030, as well as minimizing food losses across production and supply chain networks.

DPPs for textiles

In the EU, clothing, footwear, and household textiles present significant challenges regarding raw material usage, water consumption, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Urgent action is required, and the European Commission will adopt measures to tackle these issues. These measures will enhance transparency and introduce a digital product passport. A common reporting methodology for reuse will also be established, with specific targets for textile waste reuse and recycling to be set by the end of 2024. These initiatives involve producer responsibility and take-back schemes.

Textile production in the EU was 7.4 kg per person in 2017, with consumption reaching nearly 26 kg. This resulted in the importation of over 18 kg of textiles per person from external regions. Used textiles are collected by various entities, including charitable and commercial collectors, municipalities, waste companies, and clothing brands/retailers. Municipalities have an important role in collecting used textiles, which can help reduce waste management costs and achieve environmental targets. However, there is a lack of overall data on textile separate collection rates in the EU.

The EU aims to establish a comprehensive framework to enhance the circularity, competitiveness, sustainability, and resilience of the textile sector. This includes promoting sustainable production, encouraging sustainable lifestyles, addressing substances of concern, and improving textile waste collection and recycling.

Implementing these measures will create conditions and incentives for positive change in the textile industry, aligning it with sustainability principles and ensuring a prosperous future for all stakeholders involved.

DPPs for Packaging and Packaging Waste

The packaging industry plays a crucial role in production, distribution, and waste management. To ensure sustainability, the European Union (EU) has implemented the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC). This legislation sets recycling targets and measures to discourage excessive packaging waste, aligning with the European Green Deal and the circular economy action plan. Its goal is to achieve reusability or recyclability for all packaging in the EU market by 2030.

EU member countries must establish producer responsibility schemes for all packaging types by 2024, incentivizing packaging production that promotes reuse, high-quality recycling and minimizes environmental impact. The Directive on Single-Use Plastics also sets PET bottle collection targets, aiming for collection rates of 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029.

The European Commission is examining ways to enhance the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, focusing on improving packaging design for reuse, promoting high-quality recycling, and strengthening enforcement. The aim is to facilitate sustainable practices while meeting business professionals' needs.

Packaging waste in the EU includes materials like glass, paper/cardboard, metal, plastic, wood, and others. In 2019, packaging waste in the EU reached 79.3 million tons, a growth of over 20% in a decade. This surge is largely attributed to technological advancements, e-commerce, and increased consumption. Each person in the EU produced an average of 177.4 kg of packaging waste in 2019. These statistics underscore the urgency of addressing packaging waste and implementing proactive measures among business professionals. Belgium stands out with an impressive recycling rate of 84.2%, while different member states adopt various waste treatment approaches. Governments rely on reliable data to identify the main manufacturers responsible for managing packaging waste. A Digital Packaging Platform (DPP) acts as an information-oriented digital infrastructure that integrates with waste management models to provide such data and aid in efficient waste management.

Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) implemented in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, facilitated by international and open standards, have demonstrated their efficiency and success. By embracing innovative strategies and leveraging digital tools, professionals can achieve waste management goals while promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship. Higher-value sectors generate less waste compared to low-value outputs like food and packaging, resulting in higher volumes. However, the composition and ingredients of such products may change after initial use or consumption. Business professionals must consider this crucial observation when seeking waste generation insights.

Which Digital Product Passports standards are there?

The European Commission has called upon the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Electrotechnical Committee for Standardization (CENELEC), the European standards organizations, to draft consolidated European standards for the Digital Product Passport system. These standards could be pivotal for the battery passport and potential future applications in diverse sectors such as electrical appliances, textiles, furniture, steel, cement, and chemicals. CEN and CENELEC have proposed the establishment of a "Joint Technical Committee Digital Product Passport" to develop these standards. We await the outcome with anticipation.

As a globally recognized non-profit standardization organization, GS1 has helped to facilitate industry-wide digital transformation, supply chain automation, and the widespread adoption of barcodes. GS1 also provides DPP standards.

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What is the difference between a Digital Product Passport (DPP) and an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

As organizations strive to meet environmental standards and consumer expectations, two crucial terms come into play: digital product passports and environmental product declarations. While these terms may seem similar, understanding their fundamental differences is essential:

Digital Product Passports explained

A digital product passport acts as a comprehensive documentation tool, offering vital information about a product's lifecycle, materials, and sustainability attributes. It provides a complete overview of a product's ecological footprint, acting as a reliable data source. Leveraging digital technologies enables companies to create easily accessible and up-to-date passports that streamline information sharing among relevant stakeholders. This results in better decision-making, traceability, and verification across the value chain.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) explained

Conversely, an environmental product declaration (EPD) focuses on providing transparent, science-based information about a product's environmental performance. It quantifies a product's impact on key environmental indicators such as carbon footprint, water usage, and energy consumption. Through rigorous life cycle assessments, products obtain an EPD, which serves as a trustworthy and standardized source of data. This empowers businesses to make well-informed choices, optimize their supply chains, and showcase their commitment to sustainability.

Hence, technically, an EPD could be stored in a DPP.

DPPs- what is still under development?

Having traceability and reliable data regarding product usage can greatly influence the creation of optimized products tailored to their expected usage. This data not only improves logistics but also enhances the efficient management of resources, such as maintenance services, through just-in-time strategies.

The numerous benefits of implementing a Digital Product Passport (DPP) extend to various stakeholders involved in the product lifecycle, including end users and those involved in post-life treatment or product recycling. The introduction of a DPP offers additional advantages, such as streamlined data exchange and standardization. While the technological infrastructure for the Product Passport is still under development, market-driven decisions are expected to play a significant role. However, the aim is to present the Passport to end users in a user-friendly format.

Quantifying the exact impact of implementing a Digital Product Passport faces certain challenges. Firstly, the form of the Passport and the defining parameters are still under regulatory consideration, limiting the ability to accurately assess its effects. Secondly, the introduction of the Passport represents a fundamental paradigm shift in supply chain, resource, and waste management, as well as data transparency throughout the market and value chain. As a result, it is difficult to find reliable benchmarking data for modeling purposes.

Moreover, the scale of the project and its extensive scope will have implications for numerous businesses across various sectors. In such complex ecosystems and global markets, even small variations in input variables can lead to significant shifts in output values. Despite inherent uncertainty and potential margin of error, it is crucial to outline the qualitative benefits that can be expected from implementing the proposed ESPR.