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circular

New passport lets people talk to the circular economy

Europe’s transition to a circular economy took a giant leap forward this week after lawmakers approved new ecodesign legislation that will transform the way products are traded in the EU.

Circular products will become the rule rather than the exception, with industry now set on a path to ‘think circular from the very design conception of the products they plan to produce and sell in the EU’.

Following the European Council of the European Union’s decision Monday to grant final approval, the new rules will affect the majority of products starting 2026, with some exceptions including cars and defence related products.

Rules on the ‘presence of substances that inhibit circularity’ and on ‘product durability, reusability, upgradability and reparability’ are among those industry will have to comply with.

Digital Product Passport

The cornerstone of the European Commission’s plans for having more circular and environmentally sustainable products, the legislation introduces an innovative Digital Product Passport (DPP),  a digital interface that will provide detailed information on each product, including its ingredients, manufacturing processes, certificates, and end-of-life options.

To explain the benefits of the DPP, Thomas Rödding, CEO of Narravero, a company whose technology will make it easier for industry to harness the potential of the new Digital Product Passport, joins me on the latest episode of Inside Ideas.

“The European idea of the DPP is to have one digital interface, one data hub that knows everything about a product,” explains Rödding. “And if you know everything about a product: its ingredients, the way it was made, every certificate that might be relevant, every substance or ingredient, as well as all the options for how to recycle it, or resell it, or refurbish it, then you have all the information available, and that’s opening the door into a world where it’s much easier to live a circular economy.”

Rödding says it will be possible to talk to products, to ask questions like: “can I eat that food? Can I resell it easily? Can I get a new battery for my ebike?” He also thinks this could be the iPhone moment for the circular economy

“There is a comparison to be made with the iPhone,” he said. “The DPP is one point of contact, one single point of data access, with all the information for the stakeholders, authorities, for the customers and the consumers. There’s a similarity, as it’s putting all the different aspects into one thing, which is what makes it so fascinating.”

Narravero will play a big part in this. The company uses NFC technology to make products talk. And Rödding says its innovative technologies are now ready to make the circular economy talk.

Trust

It is estimated that by 2030, around five trillion products annually will need a digital product passport. That is a lot of information to process but Rödding says the technology will be robust enough to cope.

“All the information will be fully traceable using deep technologies, so it won’t be a case of just saying it’s a good product,” he said. “Any information regarding environmental and social impacts will be verified, understood, checked – so it can be trusted.”

Is this the iPhone moment for the circular economy? Join me and Thomas on the podcast to unpack the technologies that look likely to bring the circular economy to life.

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Written By

Marc is Editor-at-Large for Innovators Magazine and host of INSIDE IDEAS, his OnePoint5Media video podcast show. Marc is a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, Resilient Futurist, and award-winning Global Food Reformist.

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