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Blogs 21 may 2024

An introduction to material passports for manufacturers

Product level data is the cornerstone of creating passports for buildings and other assets, but it can often be challenging to gather the required data from the many suppliers to a project. Material passports can help with this challenge, but what are they and why should manufacturers and producers provide data in this way?

What are material passports for products?

Material passports for products are digital records of a range of attributes about a product. While there is not yet a formalised specification for what they must contain they typically contain information on: 

  • Product details including manufacturer, production location, GTIN/product codes, lifespan, and material composition. 
  • Embedded environmental impacts including whole life carbon. 
  • Circularity attributes including whether materials contain recycled or reused materials and their ability to be recycled or reused at end of life.

They can also contain additional information that can support their continued use and reuse such as: 

  • Other certificates (e.g. C2C certified, FSC) 
  • Technical specifications 
  • Test results (VOC, fire etc.) 
  • Cleaning, maintenance procedures 
  • Disassembly instructions
  • Warranty information 
  • Takeback scheme agreements/ terms.

Standardisation on what passports must contain is expected over the next few years, e.g. around reuse and circularity. The most progressed regarding circularity is the PCDS from Luxembourg which is currently being transposed to an ISO standard. There is also a European Standards Committee on circular economy in the construction sector which is expected to cover standardisation in product passports, the so called Digital Product Passport or DPP.

Why create material passports for your products?

     1.    To respond to market demand

The concept of material passports is gaining prominence with clients across Europe. Since the language started to become commonly used following the BAMB project and the work of Thomas Rau, leading clients including EDGE, and British Land have started to request material passports are created for their projects. In London in particular, a number of tenants have also started to request material passports for their fit-outs.

At an asset or project level, material passports are commonly defined as a register of the products and materials within the asset or project. This typically involves the compilation of material passports for the products within the building and the creation of material passports for any existing materials that are to be retained.

The automated aggregation of product information in digital twins of buildings is needed to assure quality of information and manageability of large volumes of data. Platform like Madaster facilitate this efficient processing of data into environmental performance reports for buildings and even entire investment portfolios. Digital material passports on a product level are a key enabler for this automated performance process. 

For producers this means that you may be asked to provide a material passport for your product by a contractor or installer.    

      2.    To respond to legislative requirements

There is legislation coming through the though the European Commission’s Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation that will require certain products to Digital Product Passports and through the Construction Products Regulations, manufacturers will have to deliver environmental information about the life-cycle of their products as well as comply with a set of obligations including making instructions for use and repair of the product available in product databases.

In addition, in the UK, the Building Safety act requires parties across the supply chain to store a ‘golden thread’ of information which will include more detailed information on some of the products that are used within buildings.

For producers this means that you may be required to provide a digital dataset detailing the technical and environmental attributes of your product.

Providing passports can be an efficient way of providing the information required by these regulations, supporting both you and your clients to be compliant.

      2.    To enhance the circularity credentials of your products

The sustainability attributes of products are increasingly being considered during the specification process, either driven by certification schemes such as BREEAM or through the desirability of specific attributes such as embodied carbon. Circularity attributes are becoming increasingly desirable. In addition, there are many studies which show that adopting circular business models can also provide financial value, particularly when considering establishing long term relationships with customers and security of supply chains.

For producers this means that you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and maximise returns.

One of the key barriers to enhanced circularity within the built environment is not knowing what is in an existing asset when it comes to point of refurbishment. By providing material passports in a digital format you are helping your products retain their identity and therefore enhance their chances of being managed in a circular way, even without changes to your product or service. This can be enhanced by sharing details of how to use your product in a circular way such as cleaning and maintenance requirements or disassembly instructions.

Through the added transparency and connection enabled by the passports, they can also support you in implementing more circular business models such as offering your Product as a Service or establishing and communicating a take back, buy back or remanufacturing scheme.

Are you ready to get started?

Madaster is the online platform that facilitates a circular built environment. The platform enables the registration, documentation, and exchange of material data related to buildings and infrastructure and collates this information to create material passports. Materials, components, and products are provided with an identity, transforming them into a valuable resource that enables reuse and promotes the sustainable management of our built environment.

In addition, by leveraging the large amounts of data connected to each building or infrastructure object Madaster can produce a wide range of environmental and financial insights including circularity, detachability, whole life carbon and residual value.

Manufacturers, design and construction teams, developers and asset owners can all make more informed decisions using Madaster as a centralised, easily accessible and trusted source of information.

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