Inevitably, today’s consumer goods decrease in value over time. In the best-case scenario, these products end up in all-purpose recycling plants. Often, they end up in landfills, or, in developing countries, unregulated dump sites. But waste of known origin and composition is no longer waste—it is a potential source of raw materials and compounds of interest. Unlike the linear economy, with its “take-make-waste” model, the circular economy optimizes the use and reuse of resources.
The European Commission is supporting the transition to the circular economy through two pieces of proposed legislation that introduce a new concept: the Digital Product Passport, or DPP. The idea behind the DPP is to extend the lifetimes and increase the reuse and recycling of all products sold in Europe.
The DPP is where all the product information needed to facilitate resale, reuse, disassembly, remanufacturing, and recycling will be accessed. An identifier (a bar code or QR code, RFID or Bluetooth chip, digital watermark, chemical marker, etc., depending on the product) that can be read by either a smartphone or a purpose-built reader will take users to the corresponding product information online, personalized to the user profile (consumer, manufacturer, customs official, etc.) and displayed via specific applications and interfaces.
Deploying the DPP is a multidisciplinary endeavor. CEA-List is contributing its knowledge of cybersecurity, blockchains and distributed systems, circular electronics, and battery management systems (BMS) for electric vehicles.
The 31 CIRPASS consortium members, future users, and technical experts will have eighteen months to discuss different options and reach a consensus on the future information system’s architecture and the data, communications, access rights, and other standards required for implementation. They will be provided with a review of potential standards and similar initiatives so that they can make the best choices and ensure the level of interoperability the law requires.
The consortium will also come up with DPP prototypes for three product categories: batteries, textiles, and electronics. Batteries could have DPPs as soon as 2026.
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