As the European Union is committed to transition to a ‘circular economy’ by 2050, the policy focus in 2021 and 2022 is on products – how they are designed and why the majority is thrown away. The European Commission wants to transform the way we produce and consume products and is committed to switch to sustainable, long-lasting products and to slow down its resource usage as it flows through the economy, tackling the overconsumption and pollution that results.
To enable that, on the 6th of December 2021, European Commission presented its plans to introduce a “digital product passport” early next year, which will contain information about the composition of products circulating within the European market.
This will support the decision of users and consumers across the supply chain on how to purchase, use and dispose products and materials correctly and in a circular way, to help boost their chances of being reused and recycled. The “passport” will be part of the Sustainable Product Initiative that is due early next year and will be a big push towards its implementation.
The Sustainable Products Initiative foreseen in the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan should establish a Digital Product Passport (DPP) that gathers data on a product and its value chain. The objective of the DPP is to support sustainable production, to enable the transition to circular economy, to provide new business opportunities to economic actors, to support consumers in making sustainable choices and to allow authorities to verify compliance with legal obligations.
The objective of the Digital Europe Work Programme 2021-2022 is to prepare the ground for a gradual deployment as of 2023 of DPP in minimum 3 key value chains: Electronics, starting from consumer electronics; Batteries; and at least one of the other key value chains as identified in the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan.
Figure 1: The 7 key product value chains as a matter of priority (priority product groups) of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan
Source: European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (2021): EU plans ‘digital product passport’ to boost circular economy.