For electrical and electronic (EE) products specifically, we now consume more than 20 kg of products per person in the EU every year. These products include washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, computers, TVs, and mobile phones. Unfortunately, these products are often only used for a couple of years before being discarded. And worse, some products are thrown away even though they still work and could be used by someone else.
The short lifespan of EE products contributes to e-waste being the fastest growing waste stream in the world with an annual growth rate of just over 4 percent. EE products are also very resource-intensive to manufacture, which makes them important to focus on in order to reduce future environmental impact.
On March 30, 2022, the European Commission proposed a package of legislative measures as part of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). The legislative package aims to make almost all physical goods in the EU, including EE products, more sustainable, circular, and energy-efficient throughout their life cycle.
Part of the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulation and one key measure in CEAP is introducing a Digital Product Passport (DPP). The ambition is to have laid the groundwork for a gradual introduction of product passports in at least three key product areas by 2024. These include textiles, construction, industrial and electric vehicle batteries, and at least one of the most important identified value chains in CEAP, such as consumer electronics, packaging, or food.
The purpose of a product passport is to collect data about a product and its supply chain and make this information available so that all stakeholders, including consumers, can gain a better understanding of the products they use and their impact. This increased availability and traceability of data intend to facilitate the transition to a circular economy.