Your products will need a Digital Product Passport

Your products will need a Digital Product Passport

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Digital solutions have been widely deemed the key to a circular economy’s success. The European Union (EU) has proposed several legislative suggestions aimed at advancing the current ecodesign guidelines for energy efficiency. Among these new measures, the Digital Product Passport also referred to as DPP, is proposed as the ideal solution for a more sustainable economy.

The adoption of the Digital Product Passport will lead to extended product lifespans, assist customers in making ecologically responsible purchasing decisions, and promote the creation of circular economy business models. DPPs enhance transparency throughout the entire value chain as they are easily accessible for all, from the original manufacturers to the final consumers.

Considering the global climate challenge that the world is currently facing, the implementation of digital solutions like the Digital Product Passport will play a crucial role in reducing pollution, overconsumption, and, more generally, lowering the environmental impact. Companies should keep up with these evolutions to sustain their competitive position in the market and attract a new generation of conscious customers.

This article will help you gain an overall understanding of what a Digital Product Passport is and will provide you with several reasons why it is important for companies performance to adopt this solution.

What is a Digital Product Passport?

A Digital Product Passport is a certified method of digitally recording information or inventorying a product to produce an easy-to-access and centralized bank of information.

The information included in the Digital Product Passport depends on the specific product. With regards to consumer electronics devices, for instance, Digital Product Passports provide important information about the materials contained in the particular product, any repairs that may have taken place, how to maintain the product, and details on how to recycle the product. On the other hand, the DPP regulation for packaging may not require information about recycling the product but will contain a guide to show the percentage of recycled material it possesses.

The information that should be included in the Digital Product Passport is, in most cases, already present; however, its fragmented throughout the value chain. Meaning, while different actors possess different pieces of information that are not linked to each other, the benefit of each piece of information does not represent any value for the consumer. The DPP is the solution for this, as it requires a centralized location for all the necessary information throughout the value chain.

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This is the idea behind creating a circular economy, and improved information flows would allow companies to improve their sustainable approaches. The sectors where the Digital Product Passport will be implemented are consumer electronics, batteries, ICT, fashion, furniture, as well as “high impact intermediate products” such as steel, cement, and chemicals.

Digital Product Passport and the impact of the EU Battery Regulation

A major obstacle to achieving the circular economy is the absence of reliable and verifiable information about product content, reuse, and recycling potential. A Digital Product Passport has been proposed as the solution to closing this information gap. The new EU Battery Regulation was formed as part of the circular economy action plan.

The DPP was considered for the first time in an EU-wide regulation, namely in the “Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council concerning batteries and waste batteries”. This has been coined as the “New EU Battery Regulation" and is expected to come into force in the near future. This addresses the urgent need for action to implement sustainable solutions.

Therefore, the European Union published an action plan that dealt with advancing a circular economy. This was one of the prominent features of the European Green Deal, a set of proposals to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Out of the many defined measures in the regulation, the most significant is the Digital Product Passport for batteries, also known as the battery passport. It is supposed to come with the following characteristics:

  • The setting up of an electronic information exchange system for batteries and a passport scheme (for industrial and electric vehicle batteries). The Global Battery Alliance already propounded this, and several international firms have accepted this.
  • The battery passport has been established for batteries with an internal storage capacity of 2 kWh or more. The battery passport is unique for each battery and will also be given an individual identifier.
  • The economic operator putting the battery on the market will be responsible for assigning a unique identity to the battery. It will either be printed or engraved on the battery. The economic operator placing the battery on the market should also make sure that the information contained in the battery passport is accurate, up to date, and complete.
  • Relevant information in the battery passport includes data about hazardous substances, durability, performance, capacity, removability, replaceability, recyclable content, carbon footprint, and proof of due diligence in the responsible sourcing of raw materials. Suppose a particular battery needs to be repaired or replaced. In that case, keeping the digital battery record will be passed on to the economic operator placing the repaired battery on the market. This is to ensure the information is available centrally and electronically in machine-readable content through easily accessible data services, even for third parties.

What are the general requirements for the Digital Product Passport?

Apart from the requirements arising out of the regulations, manufacturers must consider several general DPP requirements. Taking these requirements into account will increase the acceptance of Digital Product Passports worldwide.

Flexibility

In global value chains, many stakeholders change periodically. Therefore, the required characteristics that a Digital Product Passport must contain should also evolve constantly. This demands a system that would flexibly add new companies, product attributes, and stakeholders and remove information that is no longer relevant.

Access Control

Some companies consider information and data about products’ performance and success as a confidential enterprise secret. To maintain the information confidential and prevent competitors from catching relevant knowledge, secrecy needs to be a requirement for the access control mechanisms of the system that implements the Digital Product Passport.

Data Quality

It must be noted that the Digital Product Passport will only be valuable if the information it contains is accurate, relevant, and verifiable. To avoid unnecessary information or “garbage in - garbage out,” the most viable technical solution is to ensure the highest data quality. This can be achieved by regularly performing audits and letting independent stakeholders verify the reliability of the information and processes used.

Inclusivity

Last but not least, the expense and technical requirements to implement the Digital Product Passport must not be too high that they exclude small economic players. Inclusivity means the standards that will be used for the solution must allow all players to access and build their own DPP mechanism.

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5 reasons why you should start using Digital Product Passports

Here you can find five reasons supporting the use of Digital Product Passports:

1. Increased transparency for consumers

Digital Product Passport regulation represents a solution to the lack of transparency surrounding product documentation. Consumers typically do not have easy access to information about a product’s materials and manufacturing, but DPPs attempt to change that.

In light of movements such as Right to Repair, information accessibility for consumers has been increasing, but Digital Product Passports represent a major breakthrough in terms of enhanced transparency. It is important to highlight that informed customers are also happy customers because they have control over their choices and feel safe and confident in using a specific product. Information is the key to easing a client’s mind, that is why companies should invest in solutions that allow for greater transparency towards their customers.

Therefore, DPPs will increase transparency for consumers and businesses, but they will also make waste streams efficient as recyclers will separate waste into correct channels.

2. Tackling greenwashing

For manufacturers to have a positive impact on the environment, and for the global and European regulative community to achieve the climate goals, products should be kept in circulation for as long as possible. To tackle greenwashing, there should be a mandatory European standard for durability and repairability that will make eco-friendly products the norm in the market.

Consumers can’t know whether a product is repairable or recyclable unless the information is provided to them. Thus, Digital Product Passports can sustainably offer this information.

3. Centralized information flow

Governments have mandated several informational flows required for different products. Some of these include energy efficiency ratings and WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) reporting. A Digital Product Passport is the one-stop-shop solution for providing all necessary information. This will benefit consumers and each stakeholder at every stage of the supply chain.

DPPs provide a single solution to manufacturers for their initial reporting. This allows them to enter all information into one central channel without any hassle. End-users also benefit as they have an easily accessible platform in case of any issues encountered during the product’s lifecycle. And for recyclers, it simplifies environmental reporting.

The director of the European Remanufacturing Council, David Fitzsimons has also reported that data loss is one of the biggest threats to the circular economy. To improve the flow of information, DPPs are a must.

In short, the Digital Product Passport will centralize information flow, prevent data loss, and standardize procedures for each member of the value chain.

4. Improved sustainability

As Digital Product Passports are expected to play a key role in a more circular economy, their impact on sustainability is the most important. DPPs will allow recyclers to sort waste more effectively due to awareness. This will also lead to recycled raw materials based on their actual grades. At present, there is a drop in quality when raw materials are recycled, and this happens because higher-grade materials can be recycled as lower-grade. This can be avoided by analyzing the information provided by Digital Product Passports.

Digital Product Passports also allow end-users to understand their product’s material footprint. For instance, you can know how much of the product is made of recycled materials. This helps consumers calculate the environmental impact of their purchases and make conscious choices.

DPPs provide comparisons between brand-new products and remanufactured products. This allows end-users to calculate their carbon savings.

Digital Product Passports make the process of repairing products easier. It allows repairers to access important information about the product’s components and find spare parts for the repair. This is especially important in the IT sector, where components vary slightly. With DPPs, alternative components used during repair are recorded.

5. Information about consumer behavior

The implementation of Digital Product Passports provides information about consumer behavior, and this offers the opportunity to optimize products efficiently. This will promote upselling and direct customer service.

How to start building Digital Product Passports

Sustainability measures are critical to your future, and Digital Product Passports will play a crucial role in the ability to reduce your potential environmental impact. Starting the journey can provide great commercial, competitive, and consumer benefits with the effects reaching as far as the enablement of second life operators to make informed product maintenance decisions. The sheer fact that a DPP strategy will allow recyclers to plan their recycling efficiencies carefully, and make new customers conscious of their purchase choices, will allow you to position yourself as a conscious brand.

If your goal is reducing transparency towards your customers and reducing your environmental impact, Layerise is here to help you. Layerise provides a platform that acts as a digital assistant for physical products, allowing the customer to find deeper information about the product, be reminded of maintenance, confirm ownership, and track warranty and claims.

With Layerise, your company can reduce paper consumption deriving from printed user guides, owner manuals, registration forms, warranties, etc. In addition, by providing full support to customers regarding maintenance and repairing, you can prolong the product life cycle, reducing the overall consumption rate. Get started today or learn more here.

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