Commissioned by the CLG Europe Taskforce for climate neutral and circular materials and products, the University of Cambridge's Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and researchers of the Wuppertal Institute have examined how a Digital Product Passport (DPP) can help to improve sustainability and the circular economy. The study focuses on the potential impacts of a product passport from a business perspective. The study "Digital Product Passport: the ticket to achieving a climate neutral and circular European economy?" examines which aspects are necessary for a successful implementation and application of the DPP. Furthermore, the study also aims to improve the general understanding of how DPPs could influence and drive the overall climate and sustainability debate.
The idea of the DPP is part of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan of the European Union, which define the product passport as an important tool for a climate-friendly and resource-efficient economy. Among other things, the DPP is designed to inform where the product comes from, how it is assembled, how it can be repaired and disassembled, and what happens to the product at the end of its life cycle. The key element of the DPP in this context is the standardised exchange of data that can be accessed, for example, by operators, waste disposal companies or public bodies.
For this purpose, the study examines various policies and initiatives in order to determine which requirements must be taken into account when establishing and using a DPP, or whether and how methods similar to the DPP have already been developed. The policies under consideration include, for example, the European Commission’s proposal for the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. In terms of initiatives, the approaches of the Global Battery Alliance and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, to name just two examples, are analysed.
Important questions addressed in the study include how to incentivise voluntary data sharing by companies for pilot projects, how data sharing to different target groups could be regulated, and how companies view the benefits and potential risks of DPPs. On this basis, the study presents the current state of the discussion on DPPs and identifies options and recommendations for further implementation by political and economic decision-makers.