This is a guest opinion post by. Dr. Phil Brown from circular riseVice President of Business Development and Strategy
The world is in jeopardy as a growing world population pushes the limits of what the planet can sustainably provide and renew. Failure to think about sustainability, the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, will deplete precious resources, irrevocably damage the environment, and endanger our future. risk of exposure to Other than changing attitudes of consumers and forward-thinking businesses, some relevant regulations have been introduced.
- Construction Products Regulation: proposed in 2022
- EU Strategy on Sustainable Circular Textiles: Implementation in 2022
- EU ecodesign for sustainable products: first adoption in 2024
- Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD): Coming in 2024
- New EU Battery Regulation: Coming into Force in 2026
- Critical Raw Materials Act: First Draft Expected in Q1 2023
With major updates to existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and a host of other directives as well, traceability is a key area of focus, including:
- Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive
- End-of-life vehicle directive
- Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) & Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
- Conflict Minerals Regulation: to be reviewed in 2023
We can no longer ignore pressing problems. Our ability to achieve sustainability reduces waste and environmental impact, maximizes efficiency, and ensures ethical practices that do not violate other people, land rights, or natural ecosystems and biosphere. We rely heavily on our ability to work together to
Digital Product Passport and Blockchain We can play a key role in creating a more sustainable future. Together, they provide a compelling solution that increases visibility, reliability and knowledge of complex material flows within global supply chains. But how do they work together?
A passport is a state-issued document that allows you to travel and return to your home country. It contains a lot of personal information about you and your country of origin, the visas you need to travel, and records all the countries you have visited.
Similarly, the Digital Product Passport also contains a wealth of information to track products throughout their lifecycle from manufacture to disposal. This information can be used to ensure proper sourcing of materials, monitor sustainable manufacturing practices, and promote extended product life. At end-of-life, the Digital Product Passport greatly aids in product disposal, increasing efficiency in material recovery and reducing waste. The Digital Product Passport can also be used to engage and reward stakeholders and customers for sustainable practices and behaviors.
Blockchain technology is already being used in many industries to improve transparency and traceability, showing great potential to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Due to the decentralized nature of public blockchains, unauthorized access or manipulation of data is impossible, making it highly reliable and trustworthy. However, all transactions are visible to everyone on the network, creating a lack of privacy for companies that want to keep certain information confidential and secure, such as sensitive data related to materials and product composition. This can be a major concern and barrier. But this may be the precise data you need to drive circular innovation and recovery strategies.
Fortunately, methods have been developed to protect data privacy and are already being used in commercial applications. Zero-knowledge proofs, or smart contracts, can be used to securely reference off-chain data to maintain data confidentiality. Other cryptographic strategies such as ring signatures, homomorphic encryption, and public-key cryptography can also be used to ensure that only intended recipients have access to specific data sets when needed.
- Digital Product Passports provide a transparent way to track and manage product information, enabling governments, regulatory bodies, businesses, and consumers to identify and verify product quality and origin.
- Building a digital product passport on public blockchain technology provides an immutable record of ownership, provenance, and usage, increasing trust and transparency in complex supply chains.
- Protect data privacy with zero-knowledge proofs, smart contracts, and other cryptographic strategies to achieve transparency and trust without exposing sensitive or confidential data.
Digital product passports will undoubtedly become the norm in the years to come, just as sustainability has become essential to long-term success. Companies that focus on sustainability can reduce operating costs, improve operations and reduce inefficiencies. At the same time, you can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, enhance your brand reputation and capitalize on the growing demand for sustainable products.
Creating a digital product passport requires dedication, planning, analysis, and collaboration to accurately capture and store all relevant information. The work does not end with its implementation. It also needs to be continuously monitored, analyzed and audited to identify issues that need to be addressed, such as outdated or inefficient processes.
Realizing and implementing a functioning Digital Product Passport system is the first step in an innovation journey that will create a new interconnected way of working. The full benefits of digital product passports are only realized when they are scalable and interoperable across multiple value chains. The data and insights contained in the Digital Product Passport can be used to inform material selection challenges, product design overviews, and circular business models. These, in turn, can facilitate customer interactions to facilitate fulfillment, product life extension, take-back efforts, and facilitate end-of-life take-back.
This is how we realize the vision of a circular economy, where materials and products flow end-to-end and back again through multiple loops of use and reuse. However, technical solutions alone cannot fully realize these potential benefits. We also need to change the way we think about when, with whom, what and how we share data. That’s why we’re consistently working to advance practical examples of what’s possible when you combine digital transformation with circular innovation and supply chain operations.
Circularise helps companies transition to circularity. Our cutting-edge solutions protect data privacy and give your business a competitive advantage. Sustainability can become an achievable yet profitable goal as your business grows.