Manohar Lal Baharani
Jun 15, 2014
It is good idea to regulate producers and consumers , promote performance based procurement. More clarity will be required at initial stage for identifying the products that should be in priority for developing product passport. From sustainability point of view electricity generated from fossil fuel could be a priority for product passport. There are a number of related initiatives in various countries such as product labelling, consumer protection Act, and more. The first step could be a detailed desk review on prevailing policies,regulation and initiatives in place. Then findings to be enriched with modifications that steer towards sustainability.
Jun 15, 2014
Thank you very much for your comment! You are very correct, more clarity will be required at the initial stage for identifying the products that should be a priority for developing the product passport. Also, the existing initiatives in various countries such as product labelling, consumer protection act and more will benefit greatly if they can be unified into one central standard. When that is accomplished a detailed desk review on prevailing policies, regulations and initiatives in place can be carried out and the more accurate findings (than are currently available with disjointed information) can be enriched with modifications that steer towards sustainability. That is exactly why this proposal should be built upon with the help of initiators from different organizations. The idea is now out, and needs to be nurtured. Thanks again :)
Jun 18, 2014
I think like the passport idea, while do not forget that a passport is issued by one single government.Similarly, one central standard is hard to develop. As the proposal creator mentioned, the idea still needs to be nurtured, how about narrowly focus on the database development? I really like the feature that more verified information would be obtained from our cellphones once we scan the product.
Jun 19, 2014
Thank you very much for your comment! You are correct, a passport is issued by one single government and one central (universal) standard could be hard to develop. However, the product passport encompasses all forms of existing and future product information and could simply be initiated by one single government or organization, and then spread to other governments and organizations, which could then lead to adoption of the product passport as one central standard. I am very glad you noticed my mention that the idea still needs to be nurtured. For that I would like to engage potential implementers such as policymakers, business executives and investors, individuals at non-profit or non-governmental organizations and citizen organizations. Humbly I admit that I am but one person, and am requesting the help and experience of many. I also like your suggestion to narrowly focus on the database development. As you have read in the proposal, 'Create database and consolidate all available relevant information' is the fourth item on the non-exhaustive action list I have created. In my opinion the three preceding items are necessary to exhaust before narrowly focusing on the database development. I am glad you really like the feature that more verified information would be obtained from our cellphones once we scan a product. This feature targets the developed world, but is one of many features, meaning the product passport has other features that can also reach those in the developing world. Thanks again :)
Jul 7, 2014
Dear Reader, I have received feedback from a number of people who are not members of this platform. For the benefit of those that are I have specified their questions below, including my responses. Please understand them as my initial thoughts and not as part of the original proposal. If members of this platform would like to question further or discuss my answers please feel free to do so. I look forward to your responses. What about the risk of counterfeiting? Counterfeiting a product passport, i.e. placing a bar code, information, label/form of accreditation or any product passport component on packaging or directly on a product fraudulently, is a risk. However, the open access online database will reduce the amount of fraudulent product passports through a process of continual validation. For example, products can be screened according to their product passport, which is more than can currently be done since it is hard to access such product information efficiently. In addition, counterfeit product passport components such as the ‘Dismantling Report’ are in fact desirable, provided that they do in fact lead to product dismantling. As for counterfeit products, when you consider that nowadays even pharmaceutical drugs are counterfeited it would appear that we are not very effective in mitigating this risk. One solution would be to monitor the activity of every human on the planet and ensure counterfeits do not come into existence in the first place. This is not very practical. Another solution would be to screen every product for authenticity and then directly supply it to the end user. This is also not very practical but does have more potential than the previous solution. The product passport is one opportunity to use that potential. It provides a greater means of control, which can be used to reduce the supply chain, i.e. the time/distance from screening for authenticity to supplying the end consumer. For example, it can be used to incrementally reduce the volume of imports by having greater access to product information and changing consumption patterns, which reduces the conduit through which counterfeit products travel. What about intellectual property? In a truly sustainable economy the protection of intellectual property would not exist. That means a transition towards a sustainable economy would mean incrementally reducing the protection of intellectual property. Since the product passport can be a simple scalable standard it can adapt to the incremental release of intellectual property. Initially intellectual property would likely not be contained in the product passport, but as we transition towards a sustainable economy it would be natural for increasing amounts of intellectual property to be contained in the product passport. How does the product passport differentiate from other product information already existing and why will it have an impact? The product passport does not differentiate from product information already existing; it aims to synergize all of it by containing it in one universal standard. In addition it supports the development of all new product information, for example a ‘dismantling report’ or ‘environmental product declaration’, by providing one universal information point/method. It will have an impact by simplifying the methods currently used to validate and communicate information, for example the way product information is displayed differs greatly and is therefore not very effective. Would it be possible to use the product passport to create a consumer based trading platform? It is certainly a possibility. Once a consumer is equipped with a product passport they will know exactly what the product contains and can use as a basis of trade. For example, a consumer may have a product containing 2kg of rubber and 1kg of copper, as specified in the product passport. They can then use this information for trading/selling these resources. Naturally, the complexity of such a trade would increase proportionately with product complexity. Is the product passport more applicable to certain groups of products? When you look at the packaging of a consumable good, for example on a food product, it would seem that the product passport couldn’t make much of an impact as there is so much information already enclosed. However, even with such information already enclosed the product passport would enhance the impact of this information by containing it in one central location and synergizing all labeling initiatives. It is likely that the product passport will have a more significant impact on durable goods. Even though we have gone to great lengths to enclose information on consumable goods we have not done much for durable goods. This is where the great opportunity lies. The product passport creates a central location to locate present and future product information, providing a great incentive for industry to develop such information, for example a dismantling report for an electronic product. Can you provide a practical example of how the product passport could be used? There are many examples, but I will provide a very simple one that can be understood by a large audience. Imagine you purchase an electronic product. You use it, perhaps for many years, but eventually one day it no longer functions. Without a product passport you have limited options. You can either bring it to a repair center, which may or may not provide appropriate repair services at a reasonable cost, or you can simply dispose of it. Perhaps there are a few other options, but not very practical ones. With the product passport you have a number of options in addition to the previous two. First of all the option to repair the electronic would likely be more feasible as the product passport could help support the propagation of businesses offering repair services. Second, if you want to dispose of it you will be able to use the dismantling report to separate certain components necessary for refurbishing/repurposing/recycling, which can then be sold to new businesses in this sector or simply brought to advanced recycling facilities. All of this will affect your initial purchase decision. Why don’t you go into more detail with your proposal? The reason I do not go into too much detail in my proposal is because it is exactly that: a proposal. I could attempt to go into more detail, but to conserve the integrity of the idea I would prefer to consult the relevant experts and possible stakeholders first. It would be irresponsible for such an idea to be nurtured by only one individual. In regards to trends and forecasts supporting increasing market internalization, can the product passport contribute to that change? Resource efficiency is not a question of if, but is a question of when and how. It is an opportunity to improve in a holistic sense. The product passport is one practical means of control of resources and is resilient amid volatilities as it can include all information created now and in the future. As the need to reduce international trade and internalize markets approaches we do not currently have a very practical means of dealing with this transition in a transparent way. The product passport provides transparency and supports the decisions of government, industry and consumers. It is not a cure, but it is necessary medication. How can this idea become a reality? This idea can become a reality after I engage potential implementers such as policymakers, business executives and investors, individuals at non-profit or non-governmental organizations and citizen organizations. How can my small business contribute to this initiative? The product passport is very practical, meaning any business can start to create product passports for their goods immediately. It is a great opportunity to get a head start, and once the relevant implementers make the idea a reality you will simply have to upload the information (which will then be screened for authenticity). Even if the structure or content changes slightly, you will still be well ahead of others. Of course you are not yet encouraged to share trade secrets or intellectual information, which would undermine your competitive advantage, and should wait until there are proper incentives in place. In general, what does the product passport do for resource efficiency? Think of the world as one giant ball of resources. If science is correct, we are depleting these resources faster than we can replace them, so we need to manage them better. Imagine the product passport as a means of ‘global inventory management’ that is transparent for the majority of inhabitants.
Jul 16, 2014
Thank you very much for your detailed entry! You've done a great job so far. With only a few days left in the contest, I think a good next step would be fleshing out implementation details (who? what? when? how? with what resources?) so you can present the judges with as much of a plan as possible.
Jul 17, 2014
Thank you very much for your comment! I really appreciate your encouraging words and recommendations. I have attempted to "flesh out" implementation details and have included them in the proposal. Implementation As you will note below an implementation plan would ideally be created after engaging all stakeholders and gathering feedback, and in parallel with a strategy. It is my opinion that anything in addition to this proposal retains its integrity in the collaborative efforts of relevant yet diverse individuals, as I am but one individual. Who? At this stage I would like to develop my proposal by engaging potential implementers such as policymakers, business executives and investors, individuals at non-profit or non-governmental organizations and citizen organizations. The subsequent steps would be to set up a core team of relevant yet diverse individuals. This core team would then seek collaboration with an organization willing to take initial ownership. What? The following is a non-exhaustive list of actions that should be taken. • Engage all stakeholders and gather feedback • Develop product passport proposal and create a strategy and implementation plan • Unify and synergize all environmental initiatives, such as labeling/certification/declaration/standardization schemes • Create database and consolidate all available relevant information • Format information according to the standard product passport template • Launch product passport codes that can be placed on packaging or products • Create and introduce incentives to use all product passport components • Ensure long-term product passport functionality and value for all stakeholders • Use the product passport to leverage action towards a sustainable future When? Set-up of the administration would take several months whereas complete implementation of a product passport program would take several years. The scope of this proposal is to clearly contribute to an increase in resource efficiency by 2020. If potential implementers support this proposal the first actions could be taken in 2014. How? Potential implementers could respond to my request for assistance by initiating dialogue and providing support in various ways. I could then work with them to set up a core team of relevant yet diverse individuals, carry out the first actions and seek collaboration with an organization willing to take initial ownership. With what resources? Any initial monetary contribution would be used to set up a core team, i.e. costs related to bringing the individuals together either physically or virtually. It would also be used to support the first actions, i.e. costs related to the carrying out of actions and sustaining the core team. The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible cost drivers for implementing the product passport. • Set-up of administration • Open access online database • Continual information collection and validation • Participation incentive programs Thanks again:)
Aug 5, 2014
The novel dimension of this proposal is the use of the term passport and the governmental involvement in a global, centralized database for products. The concept of the passport is interesting, however one is also reminded that passports are used to control and prohibit movement. Is that the intention here? My reservations about this proposal have to do with the high level of centralization it proposes at a time when highly centralized systems appear to be increasingly vulnerable. One wonders whether this is the right approach. A second question is how to compare the different types of information provided by the passport. I also wonder why this approach will not fall prey to the problems that have plagued certification systems as well as the ineffectiveness of the international standards which do exist. On that note I am wondering why the author has not included references to existing international standards (e.g. the ISO system.) A more in depth analysis of the relations between producers and consumers as they innovate towards sustainable consumption would be useful. Furthermore, the claims for the proposal are very broad; perhaps a more targeted set of projected impacts would be more credible, particularly given the history of limited effectiveness of certification programs. I do suggest that the author read more broadly in the literature in certification and labeling schemes. Questions to address: How would the passport be used, and by whom, in everyday life? Why would individuals care to go to the website and access that information? Who would pay/sponsor this elaborate project? Who are the “stakeholders” and what would their motivations be to participate? These are only some of the questions that come to mind. In short, the author is clearly thinking along the lines of how information about environmental impacts can help reduce consumption, but this proposal is far from fully developed.
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