The Digital Product Passport as an Enabler of Sustainability!

Lucas Kirsch
CONTACT Research
Published in
6 min readOct 23, 2023


Own creation by Dall-E

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept stemming from the European Green Deal and the European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan. Both highlight its crucial role in promoting a sustainable and circular economy. The DPP offers detailed insights into a product’s origin, assembly process, repair and disassembly guidelines, and end-of-life treatment recommendations. Central to the DPP is its standardized data exchange, accessible to stakeholders such as developers, operators, recyclers, and governmental entities.

Currently, large parts of the DPP are still in flux and under discussion. Like a personal-oriented passport, a product passport provides quick access to relevant information about a product, a batch, or even a product type.

EU Mandates the Digital Product Passport

The DPP will be introduced in stages, eventually covering all industries and numerous products and services. At first, it will focus on items that use many resources and energy. By 2024, consumer goods are expected to adopt the DPP, and the electronics sector will join by 2027.

The goal is straightforward!
By 2030, the EU will have every industry and product type included in the DPP. If a company has more than 500 employees, it’s already required to keep relevant data because of ESG Reporting Requirements and the German Supply Chain Act. For Germany, the initial industries to be impacted by new regulations include Electronics, Electric Vehicles and Industrial Batteries, Textiles, Construction, Packaging, and Plastics.

Standardized Information Variance Across Product Groups

Our customer base includes various industries, customers, and product groups. All of them have different framework conditions and should therefore be specified differently for DPP. This is already practiced today in different standardization committees. To give an example, the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (DKE) have jointly established a committee on the Digital Product Passport. This committee has outlined foundational information requirements for the Digital Product Passport, aiming to represent this data standardized.

These served as the starting point for our considerations of what the DPP should generically contain. Based on our experience we have tried to concretize these and depict them in the form of an example:

  • Unique Identifiers such as serial or batch number of the product in combination with suitable data carriers (QR, RFID, etc.)
  • Environmental Information such as greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., the product’s CO2 footprint), water consumption, and other environmental impacts.
  • Indicators related to product longevity, reusability, expandability, and repair capabilities.
  • Technical Documentation is essential for recycling and repair, potential hazards, disassembly guidelines, maintenance, and proper disposal instructions.
  • Materials and Components accumulated throughout the product’s creation and use.
  • Commitments and Compliance Information to observe human rights, ethical standards, and market-specific requirements.
  • Suppliers, Manufacturers and Service Provider Information about the entire value chain
Proposal of a Digital Product Passport for Consumers

Any information, of course, should be weighed in the context of the product or product group and the specific needs of the consumer. It therefore makes sense to design the product passport in a modular way so that it can be quickly tailored or extended to specific product groups.

Power to the Customer

The Digital Product Passport could represent a significant step forward in conscious consumerism. Here’s how it empowers every individual with the knowledge to make environmentally friendly and responsible choices:

  • Transparency at Its Core: The Passport offers consumers a window into detailed product information, spanning from its creation to disposal. This transparency allows consumers to make well-informed decisions based on a product’s entire journey.
  • Fostering Environmental Awareness: By highlighting the environmental impacts and burdens of a product’s use, it not only educates but also paves the way for responsible consumer behavior. With this knowledge, it’s hoped consumers will lean towards a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
  • Championing Product Longevity: Information about a product’s repairability and reusability is crucial. By promoting the importance of product longevity, the Passport encourages consumers to choose items that last longer, thereby reducing waste and promoting sustainable consumption.

Different Views for Different Stakeholders

To particularly assist consumers in making decisions for sustainable products, it’s essential to introduce simple metrics and rating systems. These should be specific to each product category. In some product categories, consumers are already familiar with rating systems, such as the Nutrition Score for food items or energy efficiency grades for buildings and electrical appliances. These should be expanded to include other relevant factors for sustainability assessments. On the other hand, professional purchasers within the value chain of a product require more information, such as detailed information about the life cycle assessment.

There should be different views of the DPP in order to provide appropriate information to stakeholders such as consumers or professional buyers

In order to offer both end customers and experts from industrial purchasing added value through the Digital Product Passport, one solution could be to enable different views and “detail grades”.

Power to the Circular Economy

The Digital Product Passport is a tool for achieving sustainable growth in the circular economy:

  • Optimizing the Product Life Cycle: The DPP ensures that from design to disposal, products align with sustainability standards by making information transparent throughout the whole Lifecycle.
  • Standardization Boost: The DPP provides consistent data, streamlining environmental standards and certifications.
  • Resource and Recycling Efficiency: Detailed material data in the DPP promotes optimal resource use and enhances recycling processes.
  • Promoting Sustainable Design: With ecological indicators in the passport, manufacturers are incentivized to adopt sustainable designs.
  • Green Procurement Guide: For strategic green procurements, the DPP could offer reliable sustainability indicators.

Stay Ahead with Ready-to-Use Methods for Product Pass Information

For forward-thinking companies eager to get a head start on DPP readiness, early preparation is key. PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) Systems within companies have certain functionalities that can aid in this. They allow for direct computation of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) data through Sustainable Costing Methods, which are rooted in bills of materials and work plans. These systems also ensure that material selections align with REACH/RoHS guidelines using Material Compliance methodologies. And when it’s time to determine the final material composition, it’s accurately extrapolated from the 3D models.

Moreover, the role of sophisticated IT systems can’t be understated. Systems from the Industrial Internet of Things and Manufacturing Operating Systems are invaluable, providing environmental information calculations with data from the production line. One significant aspect to consider here is how these systems can aid in effective energy management within factories and support energy-related reporting to the Digital Product Pass.

DPP Data Management along the Product Lifecycle with CONTACT Elements Platform Technology


The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a crucial tool that sits at the crossroads of ambitious policy goals and high stakeholder expectations. Though the extent of its global impact and its role in promoting sustainability is yet to be determined, its purpose is evident: it is designed to be more than just an informational resource. The DPP aims to empower consumers, guiding them to make informed and responsible purchasing decisions. In the ever-evolving digital manufacturing landscape, ensuring your business is equipped and aligned with DPP standards is paramount. To thrive in this new era, companies must bolster their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems and incorporate cutting-edge IT solutions. Embracing the DPP isn’t just a strategic move — it’s a necessity for the future.

This text was written closely with my dear colleagues, Sven Forte, Sebastian Weber, and Maximilian Weidemann.

About CONTACT Research. CONTACT Research is a dynamic research group dedicated to collaborating with innovative minds from the fields of science and industry. Our primary mission is to develop cutting-edge solutions for the engineering and manufacturing challenges of the future. We undertake projects that encompass applied research, as well as technology and method innovation. An independent corporate unit within the CONTACT Software Group, we foster an environment where innovation thrives.