A Finnish oil refining company called Neste partnered up with a Dutch start-up Circularise. Together they created a traceability software for recycled polymers and chemicals supply chains. Recycled polymers are sustainable plastic solutions that reduce the carbon footprint.
The traceability software is called “Digital Twin” as it is a live digital representation of a physical supply chain. As polymers undergo several processing steps and get blended and co-processed with other materials, it becomes difficult to have insights on the materials in end-products. With this software it will be possible to trace renewable and recycled material -flows, which provides transparency about the materials and end-products. The Digital Twin stores data of the used materials throughout the value chain and enables all parties to track the material. This allows parties to verify where materials came from, and how and where they were processed. The Digital Twin also provides sustainability information such as the carbon footprint of the materials or products that were being used.
The EU is already laying the groundwork for digital product passports 1 , which aligns with the recent Sustainable Products Initiative. The Sustainability Products Initiative aims to make the products in the EU market more sustainable trough legislative measures. A digital passport will be a decentralised record providing insight into overall impact of a product, how to repair or recycle it. The Digital Twin closely represents a digital product passport. It helps consumers make informed decisions when buying a product, by giving them insights on the materials used in the product and helps companies by tracking their sustainability practices. It’s very easy to claim sustainability, but it is a challenge to proof these claims. With this software, companies can choose to be transparent and share their Digital Twin data as open data to the public or select specific chain members to share the data with. Companies can now track and trace all the materials going into their products while providing transparency for gaining trust and credibility, or to change make their products more sustainable by selecting the right materials.
- 1Digital product passports can enable the EU's transition to a circular economy, and the recent Sustainable Products Initiative provides a policy framework for the long way forward.