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EU Digital product passports: sustainable products

DPP is a product tag that allows any party to access product information, considering a product’s full lifecycle. This increases transparency and traceability, stimulating sustainable design. But what can you as a company already do? We describe which preparatory actions you can take.

In short

What is it

  • Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a unique product tag that allows any interested party to access product information. It considers a product’s full lifecycle, across the whole value chain. 
  • This increases transparency and traceability of products, thereby stimulating circularity and sustainable design.
  • The European Commission (EC) also plans to introduce similar regulations on imported products, coming from outside the EU.

When do digital product passports become obligatory

  • The European Commission aims to reach the final approval of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) in 2024. This is the overarching regulation of the DPP.
  • The first product groups are expected to be covered by DPP regulation in 2026. 

Why digital product passports

  • Allows companies to share information on their products across the entire value chain.
  • Allows companies to show the environmental impact their products have.
  • Makes product information traceable and accessible to relevant value chain actors.

Who must comply

  • There are eight priority industries appointed: electronics, batteries and vehicles, textiles, plastics, construction and buildings, furniture, and chemicals.
  • Packaging is not getting its own set of rules, but will be treated as a component of other products. 
  • Initially, the EC plans to implement the DPP for all company sizes.

EU Digital Product Passports

Digital Product Passport (DPPs) form a key part of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). Digital product passports are unique product tags that allow any interested party to access the information about the product’s sustainability across the whole value chain. This can be a consumer, an importer, or a regulatory body. 

They will improve the transparency of products’ value chains. This makes it easier for relevant authorities to oversee and enforce adherence to the regulations. It also allows for consumers to make more informed choices about their purchases. 

Additionally, the EC anticipates that the ESPR will help avoid sustainability-related misinformation from producers and retailers. This is known as greenwashing. With its implementation, a company will have to substantiate any claims on the environmental performance of their product with supporting documents. 

ESPR: the regulation for digital product passports

The linear model of ‘take, make, and dispose’ does not allow for the promotion of sustainable economic growth, according to the European Commission. The EC wants to make sustainable products the norm.  

By introducing an Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), the EU expects to move a step closer to achieving not only energy efficiency but also circularity in the European economy. The ESPR emphasises the necessity for a new approach to environmental regulation of products. An integral part of the ESPR will be the Digital Product Passport (DPP).

Sustainable product design

The environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle is largely determined by its design. The ESPR aims to establish uniform rules for all physical goods that are produced or sold in the EU. The regulations will focus among other things on energy efficiency, resource use, and recycled content in the production of goods.

A well-established regulatory framework on the design of goods is expected to stimulate the transition of the market towards a more sustainable future. By exercising supervision over what kind of products circulate on the EU market, the European Commission expects to make environmentally sustainable business and circular economy more mainstream than it is today. 

Product sectors first in line in ESPR

The product sectors that fall under the current ESPR framework include consumer electronics, chemicals, packaging, construction products, batteries, and textiles. For most of these sectors, there already exist environmental regulation frameworks. The ESPR is planned to work in tandem with the current relevant legislation.

The EC aims at implementing the DPP across companies of all sizes. From large corporations to SMEs, from B2B to B2C companies. This creates clear expectations and full transparency for all supply chain actors. However, it could put extra pressure on SMEs and might slow down implementation. An alternative the EC is considering is applying DPPs to large corporations first, followed by SMEs in a later stage.  

Early action for your digital product passport

But what can you as a company already do? Below, we sum up which actions you can take in order to be prepared for the DPP. 

  1. Start assessing which product data is currently available, identify data gaps, and start collecting missing data.
  2. Start establishing links with current environmental footprint calculations and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), regulatory requirements, and global standards.
  3. Organize data collection processes, especially for upstream supply chain data.
  4. Assign a dedicated DPP person internally. This person can keep up with DPP updates, and engage and inform your organisation. 
  5. Inform your IT and Finance departments to already include DPP related implications in tech decisions.
  6. Map which internal systems handle expected DPP data, and ensure these data points can easily be accessed and shared.

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