The talk around digital product passports (DPPs) is growing, leaving many of us wanting to better understand what they are and wondering how they might be relevant for our respective jobs or organizations. Here we will aim to break down the need-to-knows for DPPs in 2022.
What is a Digital Product Passport (DPP)?
A normal passport used for traveling includes information about a person’s identity, citizenship, and where they’ve been. A DPP isn’t so different, except it provides information about a specific product and its sustainability attributes. While DPPs in most cases are not yet standardized, DPPs ideally contain information about the composition of all materials and components used in a specific product, with data from suppliers across the product’s entire supply chain. The goal of a DPP is to help promote sustainability and the eventual reuse or proper recycling of a product at the end of its life in the interest of circularity.
More technically speaking, a DPP is an expandable digital framework that can be used to share data. A DPP in Toxnot allows you to choose whatever types of data (ranging from ingredient, sustainability, circularity, and/or compliance data) that are most relevant to you. These can include certifications such as HPDs, Declare Labels, or a Cradle to Cradle assessment, just to name a few. You can also include a bill of material (to meet full material disclosure needs), compliance statuses, end-of-life instructions, embodied carbon emissions, and more. Most importantly, this DPP can then be easily shared between relevant supply chain partners in the Toxnot system, which is always free to suppliers. Ideally, the eventual widespread use of DPPs on a platform like Toxnot will aid consumers and businesses in making more informed choices about products, repairs, and recycling. While DPPs are not yet mandated, upcoming directives being worked on by the European Commission signal to DPPs being required by manufacturers in the coming years (as early as 2026 for battery manufacturers).
To learn more about what DPPs are, check out this article.
The European Commission's Directive and DPP's Regulatory Background
We mentioned above that the European Commission is currently working on new directives and initiatives that involve DPPs. As a leader in global sustainability requirements and reporting, the European Commission continues to prioritize circularity and climate mitigation in their current and in-progress regulations. Situated against the broader backdrop of Europe’s 2050 climate neutrality target is the European Green Deal. The Green Deal prioritizes net zero emissions by 2050, a decoupling of economic growth from resource use, and the ideal of ‘no person and no place’ being left behind. The large scope of this deal covers an umbrella of regulations. The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and its Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) in particular are the specific initiatives that contain language targeting and prioritizing DPPs. ESPR’s long-term goal is to make sustainable products the norm in the EU market by improving and prioritizing circularity. The framework’s proposal for product groups will solicit information regarding a product’s durability reusability and repairability as well as documentation of harmful substances, resource efficiency, recycled content, and a DPP. In the ESPR’s framework, the DPP will fulfill the same purpose mentioned above, helping consumers and businesses make more informed decisions about products based on their sustainability attributes. Overall it appears that movement on these initiatives is driven in large part by the ongoing climate crisis, but also the EU’s goal of lessening its dependence on Russian energy sources in light of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Goals of Creating a DPP
Aside from what a DPP is and what it should include, the long-term goals of what DPP initiatives aim to tackle are far-reaching. As briefly mentioned above, promoting sustainability across a product’s supply chain is a primary goal. DPPs also aim to address issues of overconsumption and waste to reach net-zero targets. Traditionally, after products are bought and sold, information about component recyclability and hazard information is lost. This leads to an overwhelming amount of recyclable products ending up in the landfill, actively working against net-zero and circularity goals. DPPs will ideally provide consumers and recycling facilities with the information they need by harnessing the necessary data for reuse and proper disposal.
Additionally, DPPs have a unique opportunity to combat ‘greenwashing’ trends. Greenwashing is usually an example of an organization putting more time, money, and effort into marketing environmentally friendly products and practices than the actual act of reducing environmental impact - essentially making themselves look more sustainable than they are. DPPs, however, provide an opportunity for manufacturers and actors along supply chains to not only provide the sustainability attributes of their product, but to also include tangible information that aids in sustainable practices later on in the product’s lifecycle.
Using Toxnot to Create DPPs
It is no secret that getting the necessary information for a DPP and other sustainability reports is a challenging task. Part of this struggle is because they are new, and sustainability standards and regulations have historically been ill-enforced and lenient. Changing the requirements, regulations, and internal processes of data collection and sharing takes a decent amount of effort when they are at the forefront of industry-wide change. The hard work in creating DPPs and other sustainability reports certainly isn’t done yet and will require the concerted effort of all stakeholders along supply chains. However, these efforts can be much easier to achieve with the right tools. Creating a DPP in Toxnot is simple and protects your proprietary data while also providing the flexibility to share product information with your customers and investors on the Toxnot Exchange.
To learn more about Toxnot’s free platform and how you can get one step closer to a DPP, sign up for a free account today!