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Blogs 13 may 2024

Unlocking Sustainability Through Transparency: The Power of Digital Material Passports

Transparency has emerged as a cornerstone principle in sustainable development. Nowhere is this more crucial than in the built environment sector, where supply chains are long and fragmented, and the materials used can have significant environmental and social impacts. As the sector grapples with the imperative to reduce carbon emissions, conserve resources, and promote human well-being, the need for transparent product information has never been more pressing. 

Initiatives like the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard are at the forefront of this movement towards transparency. The standard evaluates products holistically based on on five categories of performance, such as their material health, material reutilization, renewable energy use, water stewardship, and social fairness. Products that meet rigorous requirements of the standards are recognised for their commitment to sustainability and are increasingly sought after by environmentally-conscious consumers and businesses alike. 

Madaster Pioneer, Drees & Sommer‘s project ‘Zin‘ in Belgium is the world’s largest urban mining and C2C building. EPEA – Part of Drees & Sommer, highlight that the certification stood out as unrivalled in assuring circularity of materials.

“Our client wanted the most circular building possible” explains Simon Joe Portal, Head of Engineering & Sustainability at EPEA / Drees & Sommer UK. “The Belgian team looked across the market at different certifications or even developing our own criteria to assess materials against for circularity. We quickly realised that the rigorous detail and holistic perspective of C2C Certified is unrivalled. The result was that of the new materials needed for the refurbishment, 95% are C2C certified – creating significant residual material value.”

Enter digital technology and the concept of materials passports. In recent years, digital solutions have revolutionised the way we collect, analyse, and disseminate information. Digital material passports serve as a comprehensive record of a product’s characteristics, including its composition, origin, environmental impact, and end-of-life options. By digitising this information, stakeholders throughout the supply chain can easily gain access to valuable insights, empowering them to make informed decisions that shape the future of sustainability in the built environment sector. 

As such, Madaster UK was delighted to collaborate with a range of manufacturers from the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program as part of the largest UK Cradle-to-Cradle Certified community showcase ever at Futurebuild in early March. For the event, we created a database showcasing digital product material passports for our co-exhibitors Graphenstone paint, Troldtekt acoustic panels, Sarnafil® waterproofing membrane, Accoya, Nofisol acoustic barriers and Polygood plastic panels. Within these passports, we were able to collate a wide range of information on the products, including their technical specification, environmental and circularity KPIs, their C2C certification and other supporting documentation such as brochures and case studies or cleaning and maintenance instructions.  

C2C Certified Product Showcase, Futurebuild 2024

Our collaborative efforts have resulted in the development of a digital showcase of these products that enables seamless integration of them into existing designs. Through this platform, users can access real-time data on the sustainability credentials of various materials, empowering them to make choices that align with their values and sustainability goals. Furthermore, the platform fosters communication and collaboration across different stakeholders, creating a sense of unity and trust within the supply chain. 

Angela Antolini, Senior Director Marketing Communications at Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) says: 

“Data and transparency are the cornerstone of our collective shift towards a circular economy. The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program serves as a critical starting point for brands and manufacturers to implement traceability and accountability. Our program guides companies in identifying essential data across their supply chains, which can easily be integrated into digital product passports. Passports, such as the ones provided by Madaster, are pivotal in advancing sustainability and circularity in the built environment.” 

The benefits of embracing transparency and digital material passports are manifold. First, it enables informed decision-making, allowing stakeholders to select materials that minimise environmental impact and promote human health. Second, it incentivises innovation by providing manufacturers with clear benchmarks for sustainability performance. Third, it enhances market visibility for sustainable products, driving demand and encouraging further investment in sustainable practices. 

In conclusion, transparency of product information, facilitated by digital technology and materials passports, is instrumental in driving the adoption of more sustainable products in the built environment sector. By promoting collaboration and embracing innovation, we can harness the power of transparency to build a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come. Together, let us pave the way towards a built environment that not only meets the needs of the present but also safeguards the well-being of the planet for the future. 

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