Intro­duc­tion of the digi­tal pro­duct pass­port in the EU

The EU Com­mis­si­on is plan­ning to intro­du­ce a digi­tal pro­duct pass­port. This sim­pli­fies the exchan­ge of product-related infor­ma­ti­on bet­ween com­pa­nies, actors in the sup­ply chain, aut­ho­ri­ties and con­su­mers. The infor­ma­ti­on is to be made avail­ab­le online in a com­pres­sed form. The plan is to make all rele­vant infor­ma­ti­on avail­ab­le about a pro­duct, inclu­ding, for examp­le, the mate­ri­als from which the pro­duct is made, infor­ma­ti­on about spa­re parts and repai­ra­bi­li­ty, ener­gy con­sump­ti­on, and dis­po­sal of the pro­duct. The infor­ma­ti­on can be acces­sed, for examp­le, by scan­ning a QR code on the pro­duct via an app that retrie­ves the infor­ma­ti­on from a data­ba­se (pro­duct pass­port regis­ter). The digi­tal pro­duct pass­port is inten­ded to ensu­re lon­ger shelf lives and dura­ti­on of use for pro­ducts. This will pro­mo­te recy­cling manage­ment and con­tri­bu­te to achie­ving the EU’s 2050 cli­ma­te tar­gets. At pre­sent, the­re is no con­cre­te time­ta­ble for imple­men­ta­ti­on; pre­vious­ly, a roll­out was plan­ned for 2022. 

The digi­tal pro­duct pass­port sol­ves many pro­blems with regard to ope­ra­ting inst­ruc­tions and user infor­ma­ti­on that were pre­vious­ly requi­red as hard copies due to dif­fe­ring legal frame­work con­di­ti­ons. In order to imple­ment the digi­tal pro­duct pass­port, howe­ver, the more than 70 direc­ti­ves and regu­la­ti­ons that cur­r­ent­ly sti­pu­la­te cor­re­spon­ding requi­re­ments for pro­duct labe­ling and inst­ruc­tions must be adap­ted at the Euro­pean level.

In the draft for the new Ecode­sign Regu­la­ti­on publis­hed on 30 March 2022 the­re are frame­work con­di­ti­ons for the digi­tal pro­duct pass­port. Arti­cle 8 sets out requi­re­ments for the pro­vi­si­on of infor­ma­ti­on and Arti­cles 9–11 set out rules for imple­men­ting the pro­duct pass­port. The Ecode­sign Direc­ti­ve alrea­dy gives pre­fe­rence to repai­ring ener­gy con­suming pro­ducts rather than dis­po­sing of them. With the adop­ti­on of the Ecode­sign Regu­la­ti­on, regu­la­ti­ons could be exten­ded to other sec­tors and pro­duct groups.

To bet­ter enfor­ce ecode­sign requi­re­ments, natio­nal aut­ho­ri­ties and the Com­mis­si­on are to have direct access to data car­ri­ers. Stan­dar­di­sa­ti­on bodies, indus­try asso­cia­ti­ons, con­su­mer orga­niz­a­ti­ons, experts and inter­na­tio­nal part­ners are also to be invol­ved in the con­cre­te design.

We will start by estab­li­shing the digi­tal pro­duct pass­port for resour­ce and ener­gy inten­si­ve goods such as bat­te­ries. In this regard, the Bat­te­ry Regu­la­ti­on is to replace the Bat­te­ry Direc­ti­ve in the future. The Bat­te­ry Regu­la­ti­on is sla­ted to con­tain requi­re­ments for the ent­i­re pro­duct life cycle of a bat­te­ry. Accord­ing to the cur­rent sta­tus, the Regu­la­ti­on will come into for­ce at the begin­ning of next year. Nume­rous amend­ments are cur­r­ent­ly being dis­cus­sed. It can be assu­med that demand for bat­te­ries will rise shar­ply in the com­ing years, par­ti­cu­lar­ly due to the incre­a­sing inte­gra­ti­on of electric vehi­cles in road traffic.

Sum­ma­ry

To date, the­re have only been pro­duct spe­ci­fic regu­la­ti­ons on cer­tain pha­ses of the pro­duct cycle, for examp­le for domestic app­li­an­ces. Now, pro­duct spe­ci­fic infor­ma­ti­on must be pro­vi­ded digi­tal­ly and meet incre­a­sed trans­pa­ren­cy requi­re­ments. Com­pa­nies can get invol­ved in the design of digi­tal pro­duct pass­ports and alrea­dy deve­lop an inter­nal imple­men­ta­ti­on con­cept for them. The tech­ni­cal imple­men­ta­ti­on of a pro­duct pass­port is also a chal­len­ge that has not yet been sol­ved and will only be mea­ning­ful­ly resol­ved with the par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on of industry.

Howe­ver, com­pa­nies can expect a uni­form solu­ti­on to pro­duct infor­ma­ti­on requi­re­ments in the medi­um term that will be resour­ce effi­ci­ent and practical.

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