The Rise of Digital Product Passports & Sustainable Supply Chains

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
July 13th, 2022
2:36 PM

The European Union wants to facilitate consumers to buy more environmentally friendly products and to promote circular business models via a new package of laws that will be part of the European Green Pact proposals.

In March of this year, the European Commission proposed new rules to make almost all physical goods on the EU market more environmentally friendly, circular, and energy-efficient throughout their entire life cycle, from the design phase to daily use, reuse and end-of-life. Actions that, if achieved, could enable the European Union to reach the goal of being "climate neutral" by 2050. The two main targeted sectors are textiles and construction. However, it is all sectors that will be affected by the digital product passports, which aim through an Eco-design Regulation for sustainable products (also known as ESPR) to enable people to know the provenance of the products they buy.   Digital Passports The digital product passport will allow storing the most important data of the production of a product, as well as its traceability and necessary information in case it needs to be repaired. Likewise, these will also help the consumer to know a little more about the process of manufacturing the products and their environmental impact. "All regulated products will have Digital Product Passports. This will make it easier to repair or recycle products and facilitate tracking substances of concern through the supply chain. Labeling may also be introduced," the European Commission states in the release. It is not yet known how the passport will be incorporated into products, but it could be through technologies such as QR codes. Consumers will not be the only beneficiaries; companies will be able to use this information to "access valuable information in their work. To improve environmental performance, extend product life, boost efficiency and the use of secondary raw materials, thus reducing the need for primary natural resources, saving costs and reducing strategic dependencies," he also argues.  

  This passport could help with issues such as the destruction of unsold goods practiced by large companies: "Large companies that dispose of unsold products will have to disclose their number per year, the reasons for discarding and information on the amount of discarded products they have handed over to prepare them for reuse, remanufacturing, recycling, energy recovery and disposal operations in accordance with the waste hierarchy.” What’s more, this information will have to be made available, either on a freely accessible website or by other means, the Commission stated.   The Fight Against Textile Waste The European Commission has explained that European textile consumption has the fourth-highest impact on the environment and climate change, after food, housing, and mobility. It is also the third-highest area of water consumption and land use, and the fifth-highest for the use of primary raw materials. The EU Strategy for Circular and Sustainable Textiles aims to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are durable and recyclable, and should be composed of recycled fibers, free of hazardous substances, and produced respecting social rights and the environment. This measure will thereby allow consumers to purchase higher-quality products. Some of the measures in this strategy include eco-design requirements for textiles, clearer information on digital product passports, and a mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme. CommonShare strives to help this cause, as its goal is to achieve sustainable, transparent, and resilient supply chains. The database of CommonShare gives access to essential information on businesses and products that are in the sustainability sector. It enables its users to search by specific brands including Stella McCartney, Fendi, Burberry, Mulberry, and many more as well as their standards, products, and tags.