Excess Materials Exchange

Frequently asked questions on EME’s digital Resources Passports: what are they and why are they needed in a circular economy?

August 31st, 2020



The transition towards a circular economy requires many changes, and many new tools. Amongst these tools you can find the Resources Passport (RP) - which has gained significant importance over the last 8 years. The adoption of a Resources Passport triggers numerous questions: what is it, what does it look like, and why should organisations adopt it? In this article, EME answers some of the most common questions we’ve received about Resources Passports! 

What is a Resources Passport ? 

A Resources Passport (RP) is a standard format registering data about a certain product or material stream. It includes information such as product composition, origin, volumes, quality, deconstructability among numerous other data fields. It can be considered a centralised information management system that collects static and dynamic data on products or materials. The purpose of the Resources Passport is to give an identity to a specific product or material - like citizens are given an identity through ID cards and passports. Similarly to standardized ID which enables comparison between individuals - the Resources Passport has a comparable format and can therefore be used by multiple actors across different value chains.

When was the Resources Passport developed?

In 2012, Maayke Aimee Damen was one of the first people to conceptualise the idea of RPs into a standard and comparable format registering material and product data. Since then, she’s founded EME in order to continue building on this work. At EME we’ve continuously improved the RP format, validated it with experts and tested it on a wide range of waste streams with companies. In the summer of 2020, with our platform launch, we digitised the RP. Our platform now enables companies to manage their RPs safely online.

The idea of a Resources Passport has received a lot of traction since Maayke’s findings in 2012. We’ve seen many organisations and policy makers recognise its importance to close material loops, mostly in the built environment. Among the latest policy news on the topic is the planned launch of a European Circular Database by the European Commission which will showcase digital product passports examples. 


Why organisations need Resources Passports? 

Resources Passports, also called Materials Passports or Product Passports provide numerous benefits for all actors along the value chain such as to:

  1. Better understand the quantity and quality of resources present in a given material/product flow;
  2. Follow products and materials throughout their lifecycle through value chains;
  3. Identify the potential to reuse or recycle products at the product, component, sub-component and material levels;
  4. Provide information about the residual values of products and materials to facilitate business cases for reuse and recycling; 
  5. Provide transparency about a product or material lifecycle which unlocks environmental and social impact assessment; 
  6. Provide an incentive to manufacturers to produce circular products/ materials. 

These benefits underline that Resources Passports are a necessary tool to unlock material reuse and recycling at end-of-life in a transparent and safe manner. 

So what makes EME’s Resources Passport unique?

EME’s RPs are unique for being a fully digital, centralised and  comprehensive set of material data which can be used and shared between industries. 

The digitalization of passports include numerous benefits such as: 

  1. Safe storage of data in one centralised location for organisations to access and update at any-point in time. 
  2. Ability to give access to part of the data to third parties (such as reuse organisation or recyclers) of your choice for a specific time window.
  3. Connection of physical products to their digital twins by connecting Track and Tracing technologies such as RFIDs chips or QR codes to RPs. 
  4. Identification of high-value reuse solutions for such streams and evaluation of the financial and environmental business case of associated circular matches. 
  5. Visualization of all available materials on the EME platform in a consistent and comprehensive format - ready to be exchanged! 

If you are curious to see what our digital RP looks like, check out our short video or connect to our digital platform to request a demo or directly fill in your digital resource passports!