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A recent open-mic session hosted during the Disruptive Innovation Festival – a three week festival to bring together thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, makers, learners and doers to catalyse system-level change for a future economy – discussed the ins and outs of creating a Product Passport scheme for manufactured goods. Speakers included Stephane Arditi, Policy Manager for the European Environmental Bureau, and Carston Wacholz, Resource use and EU Product Policy Officer at the EEB.

Essentially, the Product Passport would be a set of information on the components and materials that a product contains, like an ingredients list.
The Passport would be aimed at helping both consumers and the waste services industry by enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on performance and material properties, and details of where, how and by whom it could be repaired or serviced to extend its useful life. When the product becomes waste, recyclers would have the information to know how to pull it apart and ensure reuse of the resources it contains.

The Product Passport scheme does not look to replace other labeling schemes, such as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) or Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), but aims to normalise and standardise the information that these and other systems provide, along with manufacturer’s data, into a harmonious document that is easy to find, and travels with the product from manufacture to end of life. The creation of Product Passports will not affect manufacturers wishing to pursue accreditation under the SKA Compliant Product Label either.

When the panel were questioned by an audience member about who would oversee the scheme, the speakers envisaged that the scheme would be administrated by a public authority, such as the EU commission, who would be charged with setting requirements and running a database of products. The database would be readily and publicly available, searchable by product, online and by smartphone, and ideally integrated into shopping interfaces (for example, by including a QR code).

How far along is the scheme? Well, the European Resource Efficiency Platform and the European parliament sees them as a push towards establishing the circular economy: products would always remain the property of the manufacturer, who would take responsibility for taking them back when obsolete and making them into new ones.

The DIF session will be available to watch here until mid-December. If you want to continue this conversation you are invited to get in touch with Carsten (mailto:carsten.wachholz@eeb.org) or Stephane (mailto:stephane.arditi@eeb.org) directly.