The call for sustainability is more urgent than ever. Companies are increasingly being held accountable for their carbon footprint. These signals highlight the wish for a circular economy, and the product passport can play a crucial role in this. After all, with this passport, companies digitally record the composition and technical data of their products from start to finish. The time has come for a new, digital industrial revolution. At least according to content expert Elmer Rietveld, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) writes in a press release.

“The product passport is a digital document that provides information about products in transactions between companies throughout the chain,” Rietveld explains. “It may not sound like much, but it definitely is. Just think about the huge demands on data and its precise interpretation.

Moreover, it is not only about materials or raw materials. A product has a host of other interesting properties. It starts with something as simple as an identification number or the date a product was purchased. Then you go to the bill of materials. That’s how the product passport is built up, from the iron ore that comes out of the ground, to a chip machine built in Brainport Eindhoven.

Financial institutions are already anticipating the arrival of the digital product passport. That is a strong signal: if they want to be able to make decisions based on a digital product passport, the development is bound to really take off. It offers companies incredibly clear advantages.”

Competitive edge

“First of all, with the recorded data, you can show that your CO2 footprint is lower than that of your competitor,” Rietveld goes on to explain. “Secondly, you are legally required these days to report substances that are of great concern. A product passport helps to bring that into focus. Thirdly, it is proof of responsible sourcing. You show, for example, that child labor is not taking place anywhere in the chain.”

Rietveld foresees a system that can endlessly be aimed at specific sectors, but always leads back to the central component. “Because if it becomes a morass, you will soon be stuck with a bureaucratic monster. Thanks to ICT developments, we are also able to guarantee security. With blockchain and cryptographic techniques, such as secure multi-party computation, TNO has already created solutions for the transport sector, the financial world and healthcare.”

Also interesting: Attaining sustainable supply chains through cooperation

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