By Stephanie Girard
06 Dec 2023
Tags
Track & Trace
DPP
RFID
RAIN RFID
NFC
QR code
barcodes
blockchain
supply chain

What you need to know about the new Digital Product Passport (DPP)

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The new Digital Product Passport will enable businesses and consumers to make informed purchasing choices, in order to promote sustainability and circularity.

In a world affected by climate change, more and more businesses and consumers are adapting their purchasing habits to promote sustainability and circularity. It is however difficult to make the right choices when the journey of the product across the supply chain is not fully transparent. 
 
In order to address this issue, the European Commission has planned the introduction of the Digital Product Passport (DPP), a tool which will enable transparency and promote circularity. The aim of the DPP is to share product information across the entire supply chain, from raw material extraction, to production, transit and recycling. The final approval by the European Commission is due in 2024 and full compliance with the DPP will be required between 2026 and 2030, depending on product category.  Many organisations are already preparing themselves ahead of the deadline, with some already starting implementation. 

What is the DPP?  

As mentioned above, the aim of the DPP is to enable businesses and consumers to make informed and sustainable purchasing choices. Each product will carry a unique identifier that will enable access to the DPP. It will contain information related to the product, including but not limited to: the origin of the raw material, resource consumption, water usage and waste produced during manufacturing, transport emissions, packaging, repairability, disposal instructions, refurbishing and recycling etc. 

In 2024, DDPs will gradually be introduced in key markets including electronics and ICT, batteries, vehicles, textiles, plastics, construction, and buildings. It will come into effect for these initial product categories in 2026 / 2027 and will be mandatory for many of these by 2030. 

How will DDPs work? 

DPPs will have several functionalities: 

1.    Collect product information across the product lifecycle 

The data collected will include the following information: 

  • General: Provenance, manufacturing location, weight and dimensions.
  • Source: Origin of raw materials, components and ethical practices during manufacturing.
  • Footprint: Carbon footprint, including CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process.
  • Ownership: Past and current owners (for example during the resale of items of clothing or luxury products).
  • Repair and maintenance: logging of repair and maintenance during the products’ lifecycles, details of who (and where) carried out the repairs.
  • Warranties: Complete documentation relating to any warranties.
  • Instructions: User manuals, instructions for disassembly and recycling.

2.    Digitally store data

One of the key challenges of the DPP’s implementation is the access to data that is digitally stored across many repositories. Although some is already stored in existing databases, much of the data which is not yet available will need to become accessible. Secure access to data, at various levels, will also need to be taken into account. This is a critical aspect of the DPP that will require a lot of attention and the use of specific technologies, such as blockchain.  Many specialised companies offer consultancy and solutions on this matter.

3.    Provide easy data access to all stakeholders

Gathering and recording the data are key steps that are required for the creation of DPPs but it is critical to be able to give stakeholders across the supply chain easy access to that data including the final end user. DPPs will be accessible via a unique identifier that will be part of the product and will act like a “license plate”, ultimately unlocking all the information stored within each DPP. 

This “license plate” can be implemented using different automated identification technologies. Organisations have the freedom to select which data carrier they wish to use. The most popular ones are:

QR code: Already widely adopted and used by many industries around the world, QR codes are durable, flexible and easy to read via a smartphone. QR codes are therefore one of the most suited options for the DPP. 

Barcode:  The most widely used data carrier since the 80s, barcodes are similar to the QR but offer less flexibility in terms of data access as it links to a database rather than a webpage. 

RFID tag: As opposed to QR codes and barcodes, RFID tags do not require line-of-sight. They are therefore ideal for products for which the DPP cannot be visible. Depending on the application, both NFC and RAIN (UHF) tags can be used. The advantage of NFC tags is that they can be read using a smartphone which is ideal for a consumer orientated application. Sometimes, however, the focus will be on other stakeholders who will have different needs such as high speed bulk reading capabilities - in recycling for example. In those cases, RAIN RFID tags can be used. The combination of both RAIN and NFC is also possible using RAINFC tags. 

More secure than QR codes and barcodes, RFID technology also allows for additional functionality implemented at product level such as authentication and/or proof of tampering. 

What are the benefits? 

DDPs will be critical to improve sustainability and circularity. They will:

  • Allow for more environmentally conscious decision-making in regards to purchases.
  • Enable traceability and the accurate measurement of the environmental impact.
  • Facilitate the management and recycling of waste.
  • Enable more efficient energy and resource consumption.

It will benefit both businesses and consumers: 

  • By offering products with a longer longevity with add-on services such as repairs and recycling, businesses will be able to nurture customer relationships providing an improved experience.
  • With easy access to the product's full lifecycle, buyer confidence will increase giving brands the opportunity to maximise engagement and retention. It could also see the end of greenwashing as green claims will be easily verified.
  • Finally, DDPs will ensure compliance of rules and regulations and will help protect end users against dangerous materials, counterfeiting and unethical practices.

As a whole, the DPP will also have a positive impact on the economy, driving collaboration and innovation. Additionally, having to disclose all product data will level the playing field and decrease instances of unfair trading. 

What next? 

The DPP is a great step towards a more sustainable and circulatory world. Although developed by the European Commission, the DPP will have a global impact as it will apply to imported products, components and intermediary products. It has therefore the potential to trigger the launch of similar initiatives in other parts of the world.  

The roll-out of DPPs will start as soon as 2024 and organisations need to begin to understand what it means for them and the steps they need to take to implement the new regulations within their business. 

As a leader in secure contactless identification solutions, Paragon ID already provides customers with barcode and QR code labels as well as NFC and RAIN RFID tags. We can advise on the technology that is most suited to your business and processes.  

Despite some challenges, uncertainties and a lengthy timeline, companies benefit from preparing for DPP implementation now.

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