For centuries, our economies have been based on a linear usage of resources: we buy a product, use it, and finally throw it away. The circular economy tries to eliminate the very concept of waste by reusing, repairing or refurbishing products along the entire value chain. In order to achieve this, products must not only be ‘circular by design’, but all actors involved also need advanced information regarding the composition of the products, from raw materials to finished products, from the use phase to recycling.
The Product Circularity Datasheet Luxembourg (PCDS), launched in 2019 by the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy, aims to develop an industry standard template for circular data on products in order to provide reliable data on circular product properties.
The initiative is a key example of Luxembourg’s Data-driven Innovation Strategy promoting circular economy using big data solutions. Companies from 12 European countries are currently participating in the initiative.
Meeting the demand for standardized data on circularity
The PCDS is a universal data source for product users and circularity platforms without relying on any single platform for distribution. Its standardized data exchange protocol is designed to be inexpensively distributed throughout the supply chain in order to accelerate circularity data sharing efficiencies.
This standard is based on a three-fold system:
- The PCDS: a data template which contains standardized and trustworthy statements on the product circularity, regardless of its position in a given supply chain.
- A standardised data exchange protocol based on a decentralized data storage approach.
- A third-party verification process to validate the content of the PCDS
To date, already more than 50 companies from 12 countries and industry leaders have joined the project to develop the PCDS and to test its light version in two different sectors, which are construction and fast moving consumer goods. The feedback so far has been very positive. On top of this, the PCDS has been presented to major international circular economy platforms and leaders to receive additional input and feedback and to gain reputation and acceptance among existing initiatives and relevant actors.
Challenges and objectives
Several barriers identified in ongoing projects led to a deep reflection on how to solve them. These barriers focus around the fact that the availability of basic circular economy data is limited:
- Data is not available in a standardised format;
- Most circularity data is in different proprietary centralised databases, so there is no universal and open mechanism to easily exchange basic data throughout the supply chain.
- Data is often unknown or not publicly available due to trade secrets or lack of data gathering in companies;
- Data is often not validated by an independent third party;
- As a consequence, information on circularity has to be gathered through costly and laborious processes, often from different sources and various channels.
In order to overcome all above-mentioned issues, the idea was born for starting this project and develop the fundaments of the PCDS. Thus, the overall objectives of the PCDS are to:
- Save significant costs to manufacturing companies and other relevant stakeholders by providing a standardised approach to handling circularity data;
- Support a common language on how to describe the circularity features;
- Support machine readable and inexpensive scalable IT solutions promoting open data and open source solutions;
- Support the design of circular and healthy products;
- Support the implementation of cost-effective circular business models;
- Provide information on how to reuse products at the end of a use cycle.
By providing standardised and reliable data flow in an efficient way across supply chains, the PCDS system creates opportunities to maximise the product value retention. For example, the PCDS system provides harmonized inputs to material passports that are used in the construction sector in order to consider buildings as material banks or to track&tracing solutions facilitating reuse of products.
Example of PCDS statements:
The weight fraction of all disclosed chemical substances is > X %
X % of the product (weight in kg) is designed to be dismantled to the level of materials that can be reused or recycled for other products
The product is designed to be installed and demounted using reversible connectors
The product is designed for remanufacturing
The product is designed for re-use as-is or with minimal modification
The product is designed for composting in an industrial facility
If you want to know more or get involved, get in touch with the Ministry of the Economy: