Digital Product Passports

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Digital product passports are revolutionizing product use efficiency by providing a comprehensive and accessible digital record of a product’s lifecycle. They act as a virtual “identity” for products, containing information about their origin, materials, manufacturing processes, usage history, repair records, and end-of-life options. This information is readily accessible throughout the product’s journey, empowering stakeholders – manufacturers, retailers, consumers, recyclers – to make informed decisions that promote sustainability, circularity, and responsible consumption.

Impact on climate action

Digital Product Passports, by tracking a product’s lifecycle and environmental footprint, enhance Product Use Efficiency. Consumers make informed choices, favoring sustainable products. Industries optimize processes to reduce emissions and resource consumption. Governments utilize data for policy-making. Ultimately, it accelerates climate action by fostering a culture of sustainability and accountability.

Underlying
Technology

  • Data Management and Cloud Computing: Digital product passports are hosted on secure cloud platforms, ensuring data accessibility and integrity. These platforms manage the storage, access, and sharing of product information throughout the lifecycle.
  • Unique Identification and Tracking: Each product is assigned a unique identifier, such as a QR code or RFID tag, that links to its digital passport. This enables individual product tracking and traceability, enhancing transparency and accountability.
  • Blockchain Technology: Blockchain can provide a decentralized and tamper-proof record of product information, enhancing trust and security in the supply chain. This is particularly relevant for verifying the authenticity of recycled materials or tracking the ownership history of products.
  • Data Standards and Interoperability: Standardized data formats and protocols are essential for ensuring interoperability between different systems and stakeholders. This allows for seamless data exchange and ensures that product information is accessible and usable throughout the lifecycle.

TRL : 6-8 (depending on the specific features and applications)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • AI-Powered Data Analysis: AI algorithms can analyze data from digital product passports to identify patterns, predict product lifespans, optimize maintenance schedules, and facilitate efficient recycling processes.
  • Personalized User Interfaces: Developing user-friendly interfaces that provide tailored information to different stakeholders, such as consumers, repair technicians, or recyclers.
  • Integration with Smart Devices and IoT: Integrating digital product passports with smart devices and IoT sensors to collect real-time usage data, monitor product performance, and provide feedback to manufacturers.
  • Gamification and Incentives: Incorporating gamification and incentive programs to encourage consumers to use digital product passports, access information, and engage in sustainable practices.
  • Secure Data Management and Privacy: Implementing robust security measures and privacy protocols to protect sensitive product information and ensure data integrity.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Comprehensive Lifecycle Documentation
  • Unique Product Identification Systems
  • Blockchain-enabled Transparency Solutions
  • Standardized Data Formats for Interoperability
  • AI-driven Lifecycle Analysis
  • Tailored User Interfaces for Stakeholders
  • IoT Integration for Real-time Monitoring
  • Gamification for Sustainable Engagement
  • Robust Data Security and Privacy Measures
  • Blockchain-based Supply Chain Verification
  • Circular Economy Tracking Platforms
  • Fashion Industry Transparency Initiatives
  • Electronics Lifecycle Management Solutions
  • Automotive Materials Traceability Systems
  • Cloud-based Product Information Management
  • Sustainable Sourcing and Procurement Platforms
  • Repair and Maintenance Optimization Tools
  • End-of-life Recycling Facilitation Solutions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Circularise:
    • Technology Focus: Circularise specializes in creating digital product passports for enhanced traceability and transparency in supply chains. Their technology leverages blockchain and other digital tools to track the journey of products from raw materials to end-users.
    • Uniqueness: Circularise stands out for its focus on circular economy principles, aiming to create a transparent and sustainable supply chain ecosystem. Their solution enables companies to validate claims regarding materials, origins, and sustainability practices.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include industries with complex supply chains, such as electronics, fashion, automotive, and manufacturing, where transparency and sustainability are becoming increasingly important.
  2. EON:
    • Technology Focus: EON focuses on digital product passports to enable seamless traceability and authentication of products throughout their lifecycle. Their solution utilizes a combination of blockchain, IoT, and data analytics to create immutable records of product information.
    • Uniqueness: EON may differentiate itself through its emphasis on interoperability and scalability, allowing various stakeholders across supply chains to access and contribute to product passport data securely.
    • End-User Segments: Their solution could cater to industries ranging from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals and luxury goods, where product authenticity, quality control, and regulatory compliance are paramount.
  3. IBM (Trust Your Supplier):
    • Technology Focus: IBM’s Trust Your Supplier platform focuses on creating digital passports for suppliers, streamlining supplier verification and onboarding processes. The platform utilizes blockchain technology to securely store and share supplier information.
    • Uniqueness: IBM’s solution is unique in its focus on supplier management and procurement, offering a streamlined and transparent approach to supplier validation and risk management.
    • End-User Segments: Trust Your Supplier is targeted towards large enterprises across various industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and financial services, seeking to improve the efficiency and reliability of their supply chain operations.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are pioneering the development of digital product passports using advanced blockchain technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These passports contain detailed information about the materials, components, and manufacturing processes of products, enabling better tracking, monitoring, and optimization throughout their lifecycle.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach to digital product passports involves the integration of sustainability metrics and lifecycle analysis tools. By incorporating environmental and social impact indicators into the passports, MIT aims to empower consumers and businesses to make more informed decisions regarding product use and disposal.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has wide-ranging implications across various industries, including consumer electronics, automotive, and textile sectors. Digital product passports can help companies optimize product design, reduce resource consumption, and minimize waste generation, leading to more sustainable and circular economy practices.
  2. Technical University of Delft (Netherlands):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the Technical University of Delft are focusing on enhancing the interoperability and accessibility of digital product passports through standardized data formats and open-source platforms. They are developing protocols and frameworks to facilitate seamless data exchange and collaboration among stakeholders throughout the product lifecycle.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at TU Delft emphasizes the user-centric design of digital product passports, ensuring that they are user-friendly and accessible to a wide range of stakeholders, including consumers, manufacturers, and regulators. TU Delft also explores the potential integration of emerging technologies such as augmented reality and machine learning to enhance the functionality and usability of digital product passports.
    • End-use Applications: Digital product passports developed at TU Delft can be applied in diverse industries, including manufacturing, retail, and waste management sectors. By providing transparent and verifiable information about product origins, composition, and usage, digital product passports enable consumers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions and promote product reuse and recycling initiatives.
  3. European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC):
    • Technology Enhancements: The JRC is spearheading efforts to establish a European-wide framework for digital product passports to ensure consistency, interoperability, and trustworthiness of information across member states. They are developing guidelines, standards, and certification mechanisms to validate the accuracy and reliability of digital product passports and facilitate cross-border data exchange.
    • Uniqueness of Research: JRC’s research focuses on the regulatory and policy aspects of digital product passports, addressing legal and ethical considerations related to data privacy, intellectual property rights, and liability issues. By providing a governance framework for digital product passports, JRC aims to foster trust and confidence among stakeholders and promote the widespread adoption of this technology.
    • End-use Applications: The research conducted by JRC has significant implications for policymakers, regulators, and industry stakeholders involved in the implementation of circular economy strategies at the European level. Digital product passports can help achieve sustainability goals outlined in the European Green Deal by promoting resource efficiency, waste reduction, and eco-design principles across the continent.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While still in its relatively early stages, several companies are piloting and implementing digital product passports:

  • Fashion Industry: Fashion brands like H&M and Adidas are testing digital product passports to provide consumers with transparency about the materials and production processes used in their clothing.
  • Electronics Industry: Electronics manufacturers are exploring the use of digital product passports to track the lifecycle of their devices, facilitate repairs, and promote responsible recycling.
  • Automotive Industry: Automotive companies are considering digital product passports to track the origin and composition of materials used in vehicles, facilitating end-of-life recycling and supporting the transition to a circular economy.