What are Digital Product Passports? An Essential Guide for Manufacturers
icon6 min read
icon Maxim Machalekicon 24.08.2023

What are Digital Product Passports? An Essential Guide for Manufacturers

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.

What is a Digital Product Passport?

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:

  • More sustainable production of products by enhancing efficiencies through more knowledge of a manufacturer's entire supply chain.
  • Provide more information from manufacturers about the products they produce.
  • Ensure manufacturing compliance with all applicable regulations.

Do Manufacturers Need to Implement Digital Product Passports?

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:

  • Textiles
  • Construction
  • Batteries

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.

Current DPP Requirements in the Battery Industry

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.

What Do You Need to Include in Your Digital Product Passport?

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:

  • Material content: The types and quantities of materials used in the product, including any hazardous substances.
  • Energy use: The energy used in the production, transportation, and use of the product.
  • Emissions: The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, and use of the product.
  • Recycling and disposal: Information about how the product can be recycled or disposed of safely, including any applicable recycling rates and recovery rates.
  • Reparability and durability: Information about the product's repairability and durability, including whether it is designed to be easily repairable or has a long lifespan.
  • Reuse potential: Information about the potential for the product to be reused, either as it is or as a component in another product.

Implementing a Digital Product Passport System for Manufacturers

Manufacturers can implement a DPP system in a few different ways including:

  • Use an existing platform: Several platforms have been developed specifically for creating digital product passports. Manufacturers can use these platforms to create and manage their digital product passports.
  • Develop a custom solution: Manufacturers can also develop their digital product passport system using in-house resources or by working with a third-party developer. This may be a good option for manufacturers with complex products or specific needs that are not met by existing platforms.
  • Integrate with existing systems: Manufacturers may be able to integrate a digital product passport system with their existing product development, supply chain, and/or customer relationship management systems. This can help to streamline the process of creating and managing digital product passports.

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.

How to Leverage Your Digital Product Passports to Grow Your Business

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:

  • Improving the sustainability of their products
  • Building trust with customers
  • Tracking their supply chain
  • Encouraging more efficient resource use
  • Differentiating themselves from competitors

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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