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Requirements for a Digital Product Passport to Boost the Circular Economy


Abstract and Figures

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept to collect and share product-related information along a product's lifecycle. The aim is to provide all stakeholders during the product lifecycle with the information they need such that a successful Circular Economy can be implemented. At the moment, several varieties of DPPs are being developed, most of them sector-specific. As of today, however, there is no common standard as to what a DPP should look like. This paper collects requirements for the DPP from different perspectives that must be fulfilled to make it broadly applicable.
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Requirements for a Digital Product Passport to Boost the
Circular Economy
Christiane Plociennik
, Monireh Pourjafarian
, Shehab Saleh
, Tabea Hagedorn
, Alice do
Carmo Precci Lopes
, Malte Vogelgesang
, Julian Baehr
, Bernd Kellerer
, Maike Jansen
Holger Berg5
, Martin Ruskowski1
, Liselotte Schebek3
, Andreas Ciroth2
Abstract: The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept to collect and share product-related
information along a product’s lifecycle. The aim is to provide all stakeholders during the product
lifecycle with the information they need such that a successful Circular Economy can be implemented.
At the moment, several varieties of DPPs are being developed, most of them sector-speciőc. As
of today, however, there is no common standard as to what a DPP should look like. This paper
collects requirements for the DPP from different perspectives that must be fulőlled to make it broadly
Keywords: Digital Product Passport; Circular Economy
1 Introduction and Motivation
The Circular Economy (CE) tries to counter the over-exploitation of resources by keeping
materials in the loop for as long as possible by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling
products or their components, with the ultimate goal of our living within earth’s ecological
limits [1]. The CE is promoted by the European Green Deal [2] and the Circular Economy
Action Plan [3] in the EU and via the Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment [4] by the
German Federal Environmental Ministry at the German national level. An important means
to facilitate the development of a true CE is the concept of the Digital Product Passport
(DPP) [5]. Its aim is to create transparency along a product’s lifecycle and to enable the
collection and sharing of product-related data among various stakeholders. The DPP allows
to exchange information such as material ŕows, instructions for disassembly, or whether
a product contains hazardous materials. Thus, it can inform recyclers which materials or
compounds to expect, enable feedback to producers about the recyclability of their products,
and educate customers about the environmental impact of their purchases, to name just a
few applications. Furthermore, value-added services and applications can be built on top of
the information contained in the DPP, such as AI-based lifecycle assessment (LCA) [6].
German Research Center for Artiőcial Intelligence (DFKI), Trippstadter Str. 122, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany
2GreenDelta GmbH, Kaiserdamm 13, 14057 Berlin, Germany
3Technische Universität Darmstadt, Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany
4CIRECON, Jetsam Service Management GmbH, Dr.-Leo-Ritter-Straße 4, 93049 Regensburg, Germany
5Wuppertal Institute, Doeppersberg 19, Wuppertal, Germany
cba doi:10.18420/inf2022_127D.Demmler,D.Krupka,H.Federrath.(Hrsg.):INFORMATIK2022,LectureNotesinInformatics(LNI),GesellschaftfürInformatik,Bonn20221485
This can beneőt the őeld of environmental informatics and enable new business models.
Several approaches to the DPP are recently being conceptualized, implemented, and tested.
A systematic requirements analysis for the DPP, however, has not yet been published. Our
paper aims to close this gap. Aligning the requirements of different stakeholders and sectors
can foster discussion and steer the evolution of the DPP towards improved interoperability.
The following methodology has been used to derive the requirements: Starting with a review
of existing scientiőc and grey literature on the DPP (which is presented in Section 2), we
identiőed the key goals (Section 3) and most important stakeholders (Section 4) of the DPP.
From the literature we also extracted those requirements that were most often mentioned.
We furthermore elicited requirements from practitioners from various sectors by means
of a questionnaire, which was őlled in by 10 manufacturers and 9 end-of-life actors. In
addition, we took part in various initiatives, meetings, talks, and discussions with experts on
the DPP, and incorporated the experts’ opinions into our requirements analysis. We present
the results in Section 5. Section 6 summarizes and concludes the paper.
2 Existing Approaches to the Digital Product Passport
Name Developed by Sector Description Reference
Product Circularity Data
PositiveImpaKT all
exchange of standardized, veriőed circularity data for
Resources Passport
Excess Materials
standardized format to enable sharing of resource-related
Digital Lifecycle Passport
ReCircE consor-
sharing of human and machine readable data along the
product lifecycle based on Asset Administration Shell
Digital Product Passport GS1 all
machine readable product data based on persistent iden-
tity of the product
Digital Product Passport iPoint all
enables manufacturers to record sustainability data about
products in a standardized format
Digital Product Passport R-Cycle plastic packaging
storing of production information for recycling based on
GS1 standards
circularity.ID textiles
open data standard to enable circularity in the fashion
GBA Battery Passport
Global Battery
batteries tracking lifecycle data for batteries of electric vehicles [14]
Battery Identity Global
UT-Battelle batteries tracking lifecycle data for batteries to improve recycling [15]
Materials Passport
recording data about materials in buildings for recovery
and reuse
Madaster Founda-
recording data about materials in buildings to enable
International Material
Data System (IMDS)
several car manu-
recording data related to materials used in the automotive
industry for compliance checking
Product Lifecycle Man-
agement (PLM)
PLM research all
management of all product related information and
processes across the enterprise through its lifecycle
Tab. 1: Different approaches to the Digital Product Passport.
Several endeavours exist that are concerned with DPPs or similar concepts (see Table 1).
Some pursue a cross-sectoral approach [10, 9], while others are conceptualized in a sector-
oriented way [14, 17]. Table 1 gives an overview of some of the most prominent approaches
that currently exist. All of them are either at the conceptual level [15], in a prototypical stage
[7, 9] or are being tested in őrst pilots on the market [13]. Technology readiness will likely
increase in the coming years when the DPP becomes mandatory in more and more sectors
in the EU, starting with battery passports in 2026 [20]. To foster practical DPP uptake,
however, several non-technological challenges must be tackled as well, i.e., stakeholders
must agree on common standards, new business models around the DPP must be explored
and regulatory conditions must be clearly stated so they can be addressed. This paper is
intended to contribute in this regard and will hopefully bring the discussion forward.
3 Goals of the Digital Product Passport
Analyzing the existing literature, we extracted the goals associated with DPP concepts. In
detail, the DPP should fulőll the following goals:
ensure that all stakeholders in the product lifecycle can access and share product-
related data [9, 10, 7]
improve collaboration in the value chain [11, 7, 13]
foster transparency and traceability of products, materials, components [11, 10, 7, 14]
enable compliance checking and facilitate certiőcation procedures [10, 18]
enable tracking of critical materials/substances [10]
improve circularity of products in terms of the R strategies [9, 7, 13, 16, 17]
allow to benchmark different products [14]
track progress in the development of sustainable products [14]
As can be seen, most goals were mentioned multiple times; the improvement of the circularity
of products being the most frequently mentioned goal, followed by the goal of fostering
transparency and traceability of products, materials, and components.
4 Stakeholders
Fig. 1: Potential users of the DPP (based on [21]).
The following section gives an overview of potential users of the DPP. The users are based
on and adapted from [21]. They can be divided into two general groups: the material ŕow
related actors and the strategy-oriented actors (see Figure 1). The distinction is based on the
type of interaction with the DPP, the type of information contributed, and the respective
goals of the interaction with the DPP.
The material ŕow related actors (e.g., industries, retailers, recyclers) interact physically
with the material ŕow and the necessary processes to handle it. Examples of information
provided by the material ŕow related actors include quantity, quality and composition of
a product or material and the energy, water and raw material demand in the production
The strategy-oriented actors comprise for example the government, research institutions,
certiőcation bodies and sustainability managers. Such actors are able to access material ŕow
information via the DPP for, e.g., better deőnition of targets, developing strategies, initiating
measures and calculating indicators. Such aggregated information is fed back to the DPP,
where it serves as a basis for decision makers and for the optimization of processes. This can
lead to greater resource efficiency, the reduction of needed resources, or even sufficiency,
the elimination of unnecessary processes or reduction of primary resource consumption.
Fig. 2: Results of our questionnaire survey regarding mutual information requirements.
When it comes to mutual information requirements, the results from our questionnaire survey
show that demand for information corresponds to willingness to share among manufacturers
and end-of-life actors (see Figure 2), with some exceptions: End-of-life actors desire
information on product composition and hazardousness, but only some manufacturers are
willing to share this information. This may hint at different interests and possible conŕicts.
5 Requirements for a Digital Product Passport
The requirements presented in this section were elicited based on our literature review,
the results from the questionnaire, talks given by experts and discussions with experts, as
mentioned in Section 1.
5.1 Information Requirements
The DPP allows value chain stakeholders to map information and obtain a better under-
standing of the composition of the product, the environmental impact of the production
and use phase, and the recycling solutions at the end of the lifecycle [22]. In most DPP
concepts existing so far, the DPP is generated during the production phase of a product by
default. However, for recycling-oriented use cases, the DPP can also be generated at a later
phase, e.g., during collection or sorting. Depending on the use case, one DPP per individual
product might be required (e.g., to record individual manufacturing or usage/repair data).
For simple products, one DPP per product model or per batch might be sufficient.
The requirements on a product’s DPP depend on a number of criteria, including:
complexity of the product, i.e., material mixtures, joining techniques, disassembly
complexity of the lifecycle, i.e., type of use, number of stakeholders during each
lifecycle, number of lifecycles
value of the product or the targeted fractions, i.e., monetary (residual) value or
ecological indicators such as embodied energy and material scarcity
harm potential, i.e., product hazardousness or material toxicity
Manufacturing Data The main responsibility for the subsequent value chain lies in the
manufacturing process and its documentation. This should contain the product’s composition,
the materials and weights used in each component [23]. Additionally, technical data is
also signiőcant to be included. This contains details about the manufacturing process (e.g.,
joining technique, binder), the physical and chemical properties of the materials employed
as well as information regarding non-hazardousness or hazardousness to human health or to
the environment (e.g., hazard class) [24]. A product’s and its components’ performance and
durability should also be stated. This, together with information on component removeability
and replaceability, can help users extend the product’s life expectancy and enable optimal
product use. The inclusion of the batch number in the DPP is beneőcial because it allows to
track all products that were manufactured under the same conditions.
Usage Data During the use phase of complex products, all changes to the product should
be documented. This includes the documentation of any parts that have been replaced or
repaired. The person or organization who makes these adjustments is also responsible for
updating the DPP. Frequent product-speciőc damages and damage to components, especially
those that are critical to health and environmental safety, should be recorded to ensure
proper handling and enable optimization of the product [25]. Ideally, users will indicate
how they intend to dispose of the product when it reaches the end of its life. This, in turn,
aids in better planning of the CE and better targeting of waste collection campaigns.
End-of-Life Data The DPP should include documentation on collection, sorting, and
treatment during the End-of-Life (EoL) phase. These data, when combined with user input,
can help improve waste management. The recording of the achieved collection fraction
of the product can be compared with the sales volume. This provides information on how
many products are still in use, how many have left the geographical boundary of the sales
region or have been otherwise displaced. Furthermore, the applied recycling method should
be speciőed, and the process’s output streams should be recorded. This information can also
be fed back to the manufacturer to facilitate product (re-)design for improved circularity.
Lifecycle Data Sales volume can be used to anticipate how much waste to expect at any
given time and the amount of resources that could be recycled. This facilitates economic and
CE planning. However, these are variable őgures that depend on a variety of factors such as
the life expectancy of a product, user behaviour, and recycling potential. Furthermore, the
DPP should include guidelines for storage and usage of the product, which are provided to
users in order to minimize potential health or environmental risks. The DPP also serves as a
tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [26]. Therefore, information
on the environmental impact of a product should be disclosed, which aids consumers with
their purchasing decisions [27]. Moreover, a social lifecycle assessment (SLCA) can be
incorporated to assess and identify potential social impacts throughout the lifecycle [28].
5.2 Requirements for Successful Collaboration
Collaboration, trust and transparency are the most difficult aspects of the CE. Therefore,
all stakeholders in the value chain must work together with openness to achieve long-term
success [29]. Data availability and transparency are essential throughout a product’s lifecycle
to indicate its origin, location, material properties and characteristics as well as end-of-life
treatment and recycling, among other things ś especially if a global CE is to be realized. In
resource planning and sustainable procurement practices, materials traceability is critical.
In many circumstances, tracking information is limited, particularly in developing countries
with weak governance structures. Digital technologies such as a DPP aim to enhance
transparency and traceability [30].
5.3 Identiőcation
A challenge in the pursuit of digitization of product information is the linkage between the
physical product and the associated information that resides with various stakeholders. A
unique product identiőcation is critical for storing product-related information because it
allows the physical products to be connected to their speciőc information. Additionally,
this identiőcation must be recognizable on a global scale [19]. Ideally, the identiőer should
not only be able to be carried on a data carrier like a QR code but also have a uniform
resource locator (URL) on the internet. Moreover, linking the identiőer with other common
existing identiőers such as the European Article Number (EAN) or other GS1 standards
[10] ensures traceability of the information added to the DPP from production to disposal
of the product. In addition, such information should be linkable to certain stakeholders (e.g.,
manufacturers) to achieve accountability [24]. The storage of the DPP and access to it are
further topics that need to be considered, but are not the focus of this paper.
5.4 Incorporation of Legal Obligations
The legal and regulatory framework for the DPP is slowly emerging. At present, the main
driver for this is the European Commission. The DPP has been mentioned and conceptualised
in various strategies and other documents relating to the twin transition ś the European
Green Deal and the EU’s industrial strategies.
The key document is the Proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)
[31] published in March 2022. In this document and its annexes, the European Commission
proposes a deőnition of the DPP, its scope, and the informational requirements of the DPP,
which speciőcally relate to CE purposes and the declaration of substances of concern (i.e.,
all substances that may negatively affect reuse or recycling of a product). According to the
current proposal, every product containing substances of concern that is being introduced
to the EU’s market will be obliged to have a DPP. There is, however, little mentioning of
technological speciőcations for the DPP system in the ESPR. The current proposal suggests
a central registry which will at least contain a unique identiőer per product, item series
or batch, respectively, but does not make explicit which other information needs to be
contained within a DPP. However, other rules and standards can be used for this, such as
DIN SPEC 91406 [32], which provides the normative background for unique identiőers.
While the regulatory framework is still sketchy and at an early stage, there are also some
further aspirations for obligatory content and use beyond CE. One of them refers to the
DPP as a single point of reference and entry for information that companies have to declare.
Hence, instead of having to őll in a number of databases, like SCIP [33], REACH, RoHS
[34] or EPREL [35] in the European context, which can be cumbersome and costly, the DPP
would gather and provide the required information at one single point of truth. Likewise, the
provision of information on social compliance and greenhouse gas emissions could be part
of a DPP’s obligatory content. Another legal item that could be covered by the DPP is the
enablement and support of market surveillance via DPPs ś they might be used to counter
plagiarism and other illegal practices in product manufacturing, for instance.
6 Conclusion and Outlook
In this paper, we have compiled requirements for the DPP based on identiőed goals and
stakeholders. Our compilation constitutes a őrst proposal and is by no means complete.
Furthermore, the results from our questionnaire are based on a comparatively small number
of participants and deserve further investigation. This paper can thus be seen as a basis for a
discussion across sectors and industries as to what a broadly applicable DPP concept should
look like. Once such a DPP concept has been realized, various applications and services can
be built on top of it that can bring the CE forward. Very promising applications are being
developed in the őeld of Artiőcial Intelligence. Examples are AI-based lifecycle assessment
[6] and neural network based waste sorting informed by data from the DPP as proposed by
[9]. Future work includes a requirements analysis of the data handling system for the DPP.
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Managing product information for product items during their whole lifetime is challenging, especially during their usage and end-of-life phases. A major challenge is how to keep a link between the product item and its associated information that may be stored in backend systems of different organizations. This chapter analyses and compares three approaches for addressing this task-that is, the electronic product code (EPC) Network, DIALOG, and World Wide Article Information (WWAI). The EPC network has three key strengths with respect to Product lifecycle management (PLM): First, it is an internationally accepted standard that is supported by a world-wide standards body (GSI). Second, the lookup mechanism helps to insulate the data on the tag from change. Third, because it is becoming widespread and that this tag can also be used for PLM. WWAI is more technically sophisticated than the other approaches. The DIALOG approach might be the most general purpose one of the three because it places few restrictions on the format of the data on the tag.
The emergence and dominance of lithium-ion batteries in expanding markets such as consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage are driving enormous interests and investments in the battery sector. The explosively growing demand is generating a huge number of spent lithium-ion batteries, thereby urging the development of cost-effective and environmentally sustainable recycling technologies to manage end-of-life batteries. Currently, the recycling of end-of-life batteries is still in its infancy, with many fundamental and technological hurdles to overcome. Here, the authors provide an overview of the current state of battery recycling by outlining and evaluating the incentives, key issues, and recycling strategies. The authors highlight a direct recycling strategy through discussion of its benefits, processes, and challenges. Perspectives on the future energy and environmental science of this important field is also discussed with respect to a new concept introduced as the Battery Identity Global Passport (BIGP).
An expansion of the LCA framework has been going on through the development of ‘social life cycle assessment’—S-LCA. The methodology, still in its infancy, has the goal of assessing social impacts related to a product’s life cycle. This chapter introduces S-LCA framework area and the related challenges. It outlines the main conceptual differences between LCA and S-LCA and discusses the barriers in terms of methodological development and potential application. Three case studies are presented applying S-LCA in different contexts and using varying methods. In the light of the outlined differences, perspectives for the future development of S-LCA are discussed.
Conference Paper
The new RoHS directive requires more information and conformity checks than the first RoHS legislation. In order to issue the declaration of conformity for CE marking, the technical documentation must proof the device's compliance with the substance bans. According to the REACH regulation, suppliers of articles have to inform professional clients and consumers, the latter only on request, about substances of very high concern as of a certain threshold in their products. The presentation shows the different approaches how companies can gather the required information and check the conformity of their products. The challenge will be evaluated how to handle paperwork, analysis and testing, plausibility checks and supplier communication, and at the same time exercise care, dependent on the type, size, and structure of a company.
Conference Paper
In this work, the authors present a robust framework to enrich new product design process by dynamically capturing customer preference trends. The framework autonomously captures customer preference trends from publicly available product review data which is abundantly available but grossly underutilized. The method overcomes a major challenge that has plagued the product design community -the lack of large scale, realistic customer data and its meaningful interpretation to guide new product design process. The challenge is from conventional, prevalent use of customer surveys or focus group interviews that are usually costly and time consuming while the size of available data is usually small scale. The framework is composed of three steps-retrieval of customer review texts, mining product feature texts, and predicting future trend of product preference.
Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment. 2020. url: (visited on 06/15/2022).