As part of the European Union’s goal to improve sustainability, the EU created digital product passports to enhance the transparency into the sustainability of a product’s supply chain. By improving supply chain transparency, consumers can make more informed decisions about the products they purchase and their impact on the environment. With 60% of consumers citing sustainability as a primary consideration when choosing products, improving transparency can help both companies and consumers.
A digital product passport (DPP) provides data that tracks every component a manufacturer uses and creates. This data helps provide a more detailed understanding of all materials used to create products and the overall environmental impact of a product.
The initiative pushing DPPs is the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) under the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. Although introduced in 2015, the CEAP is still creating the basis for implementing DPPs for manufacturers. It expects DPPs to go into effect in 2024 as part of an overall plan to make the EU’s economy more circular.
Implementing DPPs aims to achieve the following:
Currently, at the end of 2022, manufacturers in the EU are under no obligation to start implementing DPPs. However, the CEAP plans to begin rolling out DPP requirements during 2024 by starting with three key industries:
The textiles and construction industry do not currently have any planned regulations that require DPPs. The battery industry on the other hand already has regulations that will eventually require digital product passports. Eventually, the CEAP will expand to additional industries.
As part of the EU’s expanding battery regulations, an agreement was recently reached that will require a Battery Passport. This tracks the entire lifecycle of a battery from design to manufacturing to disposal. It aims to promote sustainability for batteries to coincide with the EU’s plan to ban the sale of combustion vehicles.
Since the regulations requiring DPPs are not yet complete, the information that must be included in a manufacturer’s DPP is yet to be released. The information required will likely vary fairly significantly for each industry.
With that said, a DPP typically requires information about the materials used in the product, the energy used in its production and transportation, and any hazardous substances it contains. An example of common information required in a DPP includes:
Manufacturers can implement a DPP system in a few different ways including:
Regardless of the approach chosen, it is important for manufacturers to carefully consider their specific needs. It’s unlikely for a one-size-fits-all approach to work with DPPs.
DPPs provide detailed information about a product's environmental impacts, materials and components, energy use, recyclability, and reuse potential. This information can help manufacturers to identify opportunities for:
Although regulations will require manufacturers in the EU to maintain a digital product passport, manufacturers can leverage their DPP to support growth.
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