Introducing the European Digital Product Passport (DPP)

The European Digital Product Passport is about to happen, and it will change global trade forever. Learn how to prepare for it, and why digital links are the solution.

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Do you manufacture or distribute any physical goods or components of an end product that are or will be marketed in the EU? If so, the one thing you should focus on right now is understanding the European Digital Product Passport and how best to implement it in your organization’s processes.

Because the advent of the European Digital Product Passport (DPP) is THE trade event of the century, there’s no way of overestimating the magnitude of this coming planetary shift. The global impact of GDPR’s data protection requirements doesn’t even come close.

Imagine a world where basically any product available in Europe – manufactured locally or imported from elsewhere – must be accompanied by its digital twin: a “living” online version of an item always updated with relevant information and related content. Well, what you are looking at is nothing but reality a couple of years from now.

But before you rush to call an emergency board meeting, there are a few things that you need to know.

Read on to learn everything about the present and future of the European Digital Product Passport and how to prepare for mass product digitization.

What is a digital product passport?

A digital product passport (or DPP) is a collection of structured, updated, and reliable data storing information about an item’s origin, composition, manufacturing processes, characteristics, duration, maintenance and disassembly directions, recycling instructions, and virtually any relevant detail for different actors in the value chain. This wealth of information is made available to stakeholders through digital means – typically, an online resource like a web page.

The concept of a product passport accompanying goods through their lifecycle to ensure traceability, transparency, and informed purchasing decisions (“cradle-to-grave” tracking) is not entirely new.

The concept of a product passport

In a way, FDA mandatory nutrition facts labels in the U.S., as well as the compulsory information required by recent regulations throughout Europe, are basic, partial examples of product passports.

The big news is that the European Union has put digital product passports at the heart of its European Green Deal, releasing on March 30, 2022, a proposal for an Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). This proposal sets a roadmap for developing and implementing a European Digital Product Passport, making DPPs the norm in the EU.

What is the European Digital Product Passport (DPP)?

The European Digital Product Passport is the version of the digital product passport introduced by the ESPR proposal as the key initiative to promote a circular economy and sustainability throughout Europe.

The overall goals of the European DPP are:

  • enabling the transition to a circular economy, increasing the efficiency in material and energy consumption, making product life longer, and supporting sustainable production in general
  • helping businesses of all types implement circular business models that create actual value based on reliable and widely accessible data – i.e., enhanced maintenance and repair services
  • empowering citizens of the EU to make more conscious purchasing decisions and better evaluate the environmental and social impact of their choices and behaviors
  • certify products’ compliance with regulations, standards, and all kinds of industry-specific requirements that can be easily verified by authorities, auditors, and consumers

Available statistics show to what extent the impact of environmental measures can actually benefit the area’s overall health, making the European economy more resilient to different crises.

In fact, only in 2021, ecodesign initiatives covering more than 30 product categories made EU consumers save 120 billion euros in energy expenditure, reducing by 10% the annual power consumption by the related industries.

What is the CIRPASS?

CIRPASS is a cooperative initiative funded by the European Commission under the Digital Europe Programme. CIRPASS’s mandate is to lay the groundwork for the gradual piloting and deployment of a standards-based Digital Product Passport (DPP) aligned with the requirements of the proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulations (ESPR).

A total of 31 partners from thousands of industrial, scientific, digital, international, standards, and other organizations in Europe and beyond make up the project collaboration. The 18-month project will address the European Commission’s need for a clear definition of the DPP, the definition of a cross-sectoral product data model and DPP system with proven advantages for the circular economy, and the development of deployment roadmaps.

A total of 31 partners from thousands of industrial, scientific, digital, international, standards, and other organizations in Europe and beyond make up the project collaboration.

In short, the CIRPASS is the lab where all the infrastructural components of the European Digital Product Passport and its operational mechanics are being defined. All while trying to prevent a battle for the prevailing standard.

The CIRPASS objectives include:

  • give a clear, cross-sectoral definition and summary of the DPP
  • create a cross-sectoral product data model with proven value for the Circular Economy
  • create an open DPP data exchange protocol
  • create use cases and roadmaps for deploying cross-sectoral DPPs

What information will need to be included in a Digital Product Passport?

The data requirements for Digital Product Passports are not available yet. They will be established for each product category based on industry-wide stakeholder consultation.

However, some of the data specifications have already been defined. For instance, the general and technical specifications for producing, accessing, and exchanging Digital Product Passports are laid forth in Chapter III of the ESPR.

The general requirements for digital product passports include complying with the following conditions:

  • a DPP must be connected through a data carrier (i.e., a QR code) to a unique product identifier
  • the data carrier must be physically present on the product, packaging, or product documentation
  • the data carrier and the unique product identifier must comply with the standard ISO/IEC 15459:2015
  • all information included in the product passport must be based on open standards, developed with an interoperable format, and be machine-readable, structured, and searchable
  • the information included in the product passport must refer to the product model, batch, or single item

What’s especially important to know is that further details about DPP’s data requirements and implementation deadlines will be defined directly by EU member states with the so-called “delegated acts.” We will update this article as European Countries release new directives.

Which industries will be impacted by the European Digital Product Passport?

Over time, all product categories will be impacted by the introduction of the European DPP.

Anyway, the new requirements will be rolled out progressively according to different sector-specific regulations, starting with a few key industries in the circular economy paradigm: batteries, textiles, and construction products.

Let’s see them one by one, quickly.

Batteries textiles and construction products

Digital Product Passport for batteries

The foundations of the DPP for batteries were laid down in 2017 when the European Battery Alliance was launched.

As a result, the Battery Regulation was released, requiring that from 2026 all rechargeable batteries with a capacity of more than 2kWh, both industrial and for electric vehicles, come with a battery passport accessible through a QR code.

A dedicated act will define the mandatory information in this passport within 2024. Basic data will include:

  • material sourcing
  • carbon footprint
  • share of recycled materials in the final product
  • durability
  • repurposing and recycling directions

The opportunities opened by the battery passport are enormous, with a plethora of services based on battery repurposing waiting to be envisioned and developed for businesses and end-users.

Digital Product Passport for textiles

The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, published the same day as the ESPR, provides the framework for a complete reform of this industry in Europe, with a specific focus on fast fashion, considering that European consumption of textiles follows only food production, housing, and transportation for its effects on climate change.

Digital Product Passport for textiles

The strategy’s objective is to ensure that by 2030 all textile products on the EU market are environmentally, socially, and ethically sustainable. The critical measure to reach this goal is the introduction of a Digital Product Passport for textiles, together with a mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme.

Digital Product Passport for construction products

The beginnings of the DPP for construction products can be traced back to the Construction Products Regulation 305/2011 (CPR); however, the need for greener and safer construction products has been set forth by the ESPR, too, with the inclusion of this sector in the first wave of Digital Product Passport industry pilots.

Detailed requirements and a roadmap for implementing the Digital Product Passport for construction products are yet to be disclosed.

UPDATE! The EU Commission has launched a public consultation to select the product categories to address first from a list of 20 products:

End-use products

  • textiles and footwear
  • furniture
  • ceramic products
  • tires
  • detergents
  • bed mattresses
  • lubricants
  • paints and varnishes
  • cosmetic products
  • toys
  • fishing nets and gears
  • absorbent hygiene products

Intermediary products:

  • iron and steel
  • non-ferrous metals
  • aluminum
  • chemicals
  • plastic and polymers
  • paper, pulp paper and boards
  • glass

The initial results of the consultation are available as a breakdown of the demographics of participants.

What are the potential issues of the European Digital Product Passport?

The benefits of the European Digital Product Passport for citizens, companies, and organizations are countless, from unprecedented business models to more conscious and sustainable consumption habits and simplified compliance audits.

However, some observers have raised concerns about data protection and intellectual property issues.

The type of data shared through a product passport and who has access to which layer of data are crucial aspects to prevent, for instance, leaking of information that reveals how a company generates a competitive advantage.

As Stefan Šipka (Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre) described, the solution is to grant different levels of access to information stored in DPPs depending on the target group.

How to prepare for complying with the European Digital Product Passport?

If you’ve read this far, you should be aware that European Digital Product Passport standards are still in the works. We know that a revolution is gonna happen. What we don’t know is how exactly it will happen.

One thing is sure, though. A flexible, sustainable, and proven solution to help you overcome the DPP’s challenges is already available and ready to use. We’re talking about the GS1 digital link protocol established by the global GS1 authority. And digital link QR codes and product pages, such as the ones we provide.

Let’s break down the DPP requirements available so far to see how digital links effortlessly meet them.

How to prepare for complying with the European Digital Product Passport

Digital Product Passport vs. digital link

Digital Product Passports must be connected to a unique product identifier

The GS1 digital link protocol embeds the most widely adopted and reliable product identifiers maintained by the GS1 authority (like the GTIN) in a web address. ✅

Digital Product Passports must be connected through a data carrier like a QR code

Digital links are typically encoded in QR codes that can be printed on product packaging, labels, manuals, and any product documentation. ✅

The added value here is that digital links connect visitors to different resources. The same QR code that redirects to the Digital Product Passport can work like a traditional barcode when read by a POS scanner.

This feature of digital links will also be crucial when tackling the intellectual property issues mentioned above: different access levels can be granted to different audiences taking advantage of digital links’ smart redirecting capabilities.

But there’s more. Digital link QR codes created on our platform are also dynamic (their content can be changed and updated without reprinting the codes) and come with a product page that can be edited to include more content and resources apart from the DPP itself: videos, e-shops, social media, tutorials, promotions, nutrition facts, environmental labels; the sky’s the limit.

The unique product identifier connected to a Digital Product Passport must comply with the standard ISO/IEC 15459:2015

That’s an easy one: GS1 and ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) are long-time partners, and GS1 standards are ISO-compliant standards.

Here’s a list of GS1 standards recognized by ISO and other standard bodies. ✅

All information included in the product passport must be based on open standards, machine-readable, structured, and searchable

GS1 standards are open by definition, and the information whose distribution they enable is structured, machine-readable, and searchable. It’s not by chance that SEO gurus are looking at digital links as the next big thing.

The European Digital Product Passport project’s overall sustainability is actually ensured by existing standards and databases maintained or monitored by GS1.

For example, a recent study by Deloitte highlighted how projected costs generated by implementing the DPP adopting global, open, and decentralized standards would be between EUR 3 billion and EUR 7 billion. At the same time, they would skyrocket to something between EUR 63 billion and EUR 152 billion (!!!) if competing proprietary standards and systems were considered.

The information included in the product passport must refer to the product model, batch, or single item

The data model established for digital links allows producers to add granular information about the product inside the digital link itself using qualifiers and attributes. This way, a digital link can represent a model, a batch or a lot, and even a single item. ✅

Digital link QR codes are the ideal Digital Product Passport enablers

We have just shown how digital link QR codes are 100% compliant with the EU requirements for Digital Product Passports. But it doesn’t end here. Digital links themselves will become basically mandatory in a short while.

Batteries, textiles, and construction products

The global retail industry and GS1 have set a 2027 deadline for transitioning from the old barcodes to digital link QR codes, the so-called “Sunrise.” Digital links will be the norm, too.

So, starting implementing digital link processes in your organization now, you would kill two birds with a stone, getting ready for both the EU Digital Product Passport and Sunrise 2027 in a single smart move.

Creating digital link QR codes for your product with our system is easy and fast. You can try it yourself with our digital link QR demo generator . Get a digital link, a QR code, and an automatically populated, editable product page by simply entering a product’s GTIN number.

Any specific questions or special requests? Contact our experts at we can work with you on custom solutions.

Be a leader in the transition from barcodes to digital links