Sustainability step up – GS1 in Europe supporting the European Commission’s ‘Green Deal’

"Sustainability and circularity initiatives can only scale if stakeholders embrace business processes that are built with a standardised data language on top of a foundationally interoperable data exchange network.”

—Gregor Herzog – Chair, GS1 in Europe.

There is an immediate and collective need to adapt to climate change which is driving a strong global agenda for sustainability.

In March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the ‘Circular Economy Action Plan’. The report sketched out future challenges in shaping the European economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral ‘circular economy’ where pressure on natural and freshwater resources, as well as ecosystems, is minimised.1

Accelerating this transition goal (the programme is called the ‘Green Deal’) is a key priority of the European Union 20 (EU) for the coming decade and achieving Environmental Sustainability and Governance objectives will not be possible without fundamental shifts in both global and European economic resource and data flows.

The circular economy

The circular economy is a cornerstone for creating a sustainable future and involves redesigning products, services and systems to keep resources in use and safe circulation. This means they don't become waste and pollution (including generating greenhouse gas emissions).

GS1 and the circular economy

Sustainability and circularity offer significant opportunities to companies across all sectors when they adapt to new business processes and requirements. At GS1, we believe that a standardised language for data, data portability and interoperable data exchange networks are essential to industry’s successful adoption.

Development of the Digital Product Passport for the circular economy

The concept of a ‘Digital Product Passport’ (DPP) is proposed as a key mechanism through which EU economies will support sustainable consumption and production, resource flows and supply chain management. Under draft EU regulations released earlier this year, a product passport is required to be made accessible to trading partners via electronic means through a data carrier with a set of data specific to a product (specified in the delegated act).2

Under the draft regulation, the Digital Product Passport will ensure that actors along the value chain, including consumers, economic operators and competent national authorities, can access product information relevant to them, and include the necessary data attributes to enable tracking of all substances of concern throughout the life cycle of the products covered by the DPPs.

The draft regulation makes several specific references to the use of ISO/GS1 data standards, which will provide value to all existing GS1 members.

GS1 in Europe, led by Chair, Gregor Herzog (also CEO of GS1 Austria), is helping the European Commission develop architecture for the new regulations and the use of a Digital Product Passport.

Gregor presented at the 2022 GS1 Asia Pacific Forum (hosted by GS1 New Zealand in Wellington) and attended meetings with officials interested in the EU developments.