GS1 launches project to develop guideline based on R-Cycle

Under the auspices of GS1 Germany, the project PDS4CircularPlastics (Processes and data sharing approach for enabling circular plastics value networks) has been launched. The goal is to develop a GS1 guideline that describes the recycling-relevant process steps in plastics production and presents the necessary attributes for data transfer along the value chain. GS1 is the leading global network for cross-industry process development and GS1 standards are used for more than six billion scanned barcodes per day.

The project is based on the results of the R-Cycle Initiative. The recycling-relevant data is stored automatically in so-called digital product passports and can be read and supplemented by all participants in the value chain. This forms the starting point for circular processes and their operationalization.

Dr. Benedikt Brenken, Director of the R-Cycle Initiative, explains: “The step towards GS1 guideline represents an important milestone for us. With GS1 Germany, who have supported us as a founding R-Cycle member since the very beginning, we have the relevant partner on our side to establish our approach as an industry standard.”

Dr. Benedikt Brenken - Leiter R-Cycle Initiative

Dr. Benedikt Brenken, Director of the R-Cycle Initiative.

Sarah Grede, Senior Manager Sustainability at GS1 Germany, adds: “The standardized collection of recycling-relevant data attributes in the plastics production process offers enormous potential for the circular economy. That’s why we’re delighted to now be working with market participants and our GS1 experts to drive forward the optimization of value networks.”

Sarah Grede, Senior Manager Sustainability at GS1 Germany.

One particularly interesting use case is in the area of waste management. When considering today’s waste streams, recyclable plastic packaging cannot be accurately sorted for high-quality recycling. If production machines automatically record recycling-relevant properties in a digital product passport, route it through the value chain and make it retrievable via a corresponding marking (e.g. digital watermarks) on the packaging, waste sorting plants can identify recyclable packaging and form recycling-friendly, single-sort fractions. This is the basis for obtaining high-quality recyclates to build a functioning circular economy.

In addition to improving product sustainability, manufacturers also increase their process efficiency and product quality by using the digital product passport. Precise information about the production and product properties of the source material, provide added value for customers in the downstream process.