What are Materials Passports?

It is no secret that the building industry is one of the greatest users of resources and producers of waste.

A Circular Economy (CE) is one solution to the problem, it is an economic system that is aimed at eliminating waste and being able to continually use resources. It is a stark contrast to that of a linear economy that follows a ‘take, make and dispose’ model.

One way of achieving a CE is through the use of Materials Passports. They are a tool to put the CE into practice and are being developed in the BAMB project. In simple terms, they are sets of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products that give them value for recovery and reuse. Manufacturers and their customers are looking for reliable and convenient data on product designs, pathways and composition. This will determine their potential for a CE and can include things such as optimal productivity and recycling vs. downcycling.

There is a demand for putting the recovery potential of materials, products and systems into practice because existing tools focus more on measuring and reducing the negative environmental impacts rather than increasing the value creation.

Materials Passports can be used by various stakeholders throughout the value chain of a building as well as delivering a multitude of value propositions, one of which is the ability to influence innovation and the design of products. It is worth pointing out that simply having a passport does not necessarily mean that the product is good for a CE, it is about what is in the passport. A product may have good CE potential but the passport acts as an enabler to fulfil that potential.

Displaying transparency on products or showcasing well thought out products with good circular potential is a unique selling point that can help manufacturers and suppliers to stand out from the competition.

BAMB want to make Materials Passports a one-stop-shop for material information with the aim of:

  • Increasing/keeping the value of materials, products and components over time.
  • Creating incentives for suppliers to product healthy, sustainable and circular materials/building products.
  • Supporting materials choices in Reversible Building Design projects.
  • Making it easier for developers, managers and renovators to choose healthy, sustainable and circular building materials.
  • Facilitating reversed logistics and take-back of products, materials and components.

There are currently over 300 Materials Passports for different products, components or materials which have been developed together with a software solution, this facilitates the accessibility of information for various stakeholders at specific stages in the process.

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