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Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

Consultant required to co-produce a report for CLG Europe’s Taskforce for climate neutral and circular materials and products 

Closing date: 21 March 2022

How can a Digital Products Passport lead to practical solutions for greater sustainability? (working title)

We are inviting submissions for a competitive proposal for the supply and delivery to the University of Cambridge of the services set out in the below specification in collaboration with the Centre for Policy and Industrial Transformation (CPIT). The report will focus on how a Digital Product Passport can enable solutions for enhanced circularity and sustainability in Europe. 

About CLG Europe 

CLG Europe bring together European business leaders to accelerate progress towards a low carbon, sustainable economy. Through exchange of ideas, experience, and a dialogue with policymakers, CLG Europe facilitates solutions that support a resilient and prosperous future. CLG Europe is convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Find out more:  

About the Materials and Products Taskforce 

The Taskforce for climate neutral and circular materials and products was created in September 2021, with the aim of driving forward policy action on sustainable materials by bringing together a group of progressive businesses across sectors and value chains. The group brings together companies that are actively committed to producing and using climate neutral and sustainable materials, and who want to work together to promote and support EU-wide measures to decarbonise material production and use. Find out more:  


The March 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) is one of the main building blocks of the Green Deal and sets out several initiatives along the entire life cycle of products with the intention of achieving the EU’s climate goals, reducing pressure on natural resources and stopping biodiversity loss (European Commission, 2020). 

The action plan introduces legislative and non-legislative measures targeting how products are designed, promoting circular economy processes, encouraging sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that waste is prevented and the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible. 

Contributing towards this action plan and the European Green Deal (CISL, 2020), in March 2022, the European Commission is due to unveil its new proposal the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI). The SPI will aim to reduce waste and make products made or sold in Europe fit for a climate neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy.  

A successful industrial transition will require an increasing demand for climate neutral raw material inputs. Without it, there is no business case for companies and value chains to fundamentally shift their production technologies and business models. Unfortunately, market demand for climate neutral basic materials and final products currently remains underdeveloped or even non-existent in some EU product markets (CISL and Agora Energiewende, 2021). 

Further information on the Materials and Taskforce’s views on the Sustainable Products Initiative can be found in our policy briefing here

One area of particular interest within the SPI is the aims to increase transparency through the use of a digital product passport. A brief overview of the existing literature indicates that Digital Product Passports (DPPs) could enable more circular approaches in heavy industry, materials sectors, and manufacturing by addressing some of the key challenges to a more circular practices, such as the lack of transparency, standardization, and data sharing.  

As a key enabler of more circular practices by material producers, manufacturers and consumers, a research project focusing on DPPs would be a valuable focal point in the introduction of the Sustainable Products Initiative, as well as an opportunity to influence other future pieces of legislation which will be using some sort of digital passport. Furthermore, while the report will be specifically focusing on the Digital Products Passport, it will also aim to contribute towards the wider discussion on the twin digital and green transition in Europe and how scaling up digital solutions and technologies can enable and accelerate the transformation towards more sustainable economies in Europe and globally. 

The proposed research project must be relevant to the Taskforce, specific in terms of focus, and have a practical application. It should also be relevant for policymakers, who the final report would be primarily aimed at.  

Scope and description 

Existing literature on DPPs can serve as helpful starting point for identifying the specific research question(s). A recent paper by Walden et al (2021) outlines some of the key opportunities and challenges related to further development and adoption of digital product passports. Another article (Adisorn, Tholen and Götz, 2021) identifies a set of design options for the DPP and assessed these might benefit stakeholders in a product’s value chain. It also highlights a need for further research on the precise groups that a Digital Product Passport could/would/should apply, how to reduce red tape and increase incentives for manufacturers to deliver information, and what data tool(s) could be used. 

However, some important questions remain unanswered, such as how to incentivise voluntary data sharing during a pilot stage by companies, how data sharing could in the future be regulated, and how companies feel about the benefits and potential risks that DPPs would present to them. 

The proposed research project would build on the existing literature, re-emphasizing the potential enabling role that a DPP could play, focusing primarily on the business perspectives and related policy challenges to the implementation of a DPP in specific product categories (which are to be identified). Ideally the final report would also enhance the understanding of how DPPs could influence and move on the wider climate debate, to link the project to the wider CLG Europe work. 

The project would be expected to cover the following topics: 

  • Which approaches could realistically be implemented? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each? 
  • Which products and materials should be ideally covered in the initial DPP and why? 
  • What are the key opportunities and barriers to implementation of DPPs, and how could these be addressed? 
  • What information would material producers and manufacturers need to share with each other? What are the key barriers to effective information sharing, and how could these be addressed? 
  • What are the long-term benefits for businesses? (especially in being able to monitor and report on scope 3 emissions) 

These points could be structured around the DPP’s design, implementation and adoption phase. 

The report will have the following components:  

(1) An introduction setting out the context in which digital product passports could support greater circularity in materials and products, and why this is important to deliver the transition to climate-neutral economy. 

(2) A background section  

  • Drawing on existing literature to explore why and how DPPs could improve circularity, which stakeholders are supporting their adoption, and why. 
  • Drawing on existing literature to assess what we currently know about the potential use of DPPs, including how they could be used, which product categories they could be applied and how and how DPPs could have long-term benefits for business. 
  • Drawing on existing literature to showcase how digital solutions can enable and accelerate the transformation towards more sustainable economies. 

(3) A review on existing policies related to the digital product passport, in particular looking at how the Battery Alliance has approached the issue, as well as how carbon accounting initiatives are taking place globally, for example the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Pathfinder Framework. This section would draw out some key lessons from these case studies.  

(4) Business perspectives and views regarding the challenges and opportunities around the implementation of DPPs. This will be based upon working with the members of the Materials and Product Taskforce, CLG Europe and other identified progressive businesses in the space of circularity. 

(5) Recommendations on how the EU should approach piloting and implementing for such passports, how member states should enforce these rules and how businesses can best prepare to implement them, and seize the opportunities to innovate. 

The end product will be an evidence base for the introduction of the Digital Products Passport in the EU and how it can be successfully implemented by the EU, Member States and by business. 


The purpose of the report is twofold:  

  • To improve understanding of how DPPs could work in practice, and what preconditions would need to be met to facilitate and incentivise their effective use. This will include, but is not limited to, shared definitions and understanding of the benefits of DPPs among policymakers, business and academia. 
  • Improve our understanding of the role that DPPs could play in supporting the transition to more circular economic models and the link with progressing towards climate neutrality. 

The output will be a structured, well-referenced, report of up to 20 pages of text (excluding references).  

The report will be published in the name of CLG Europe Materials and Products Taskforce and will represent insights from a business group supporting ambition on climate change and the transition to a sustainable economy.  

Target audience 

The target audience entails relevant European policymakers (European Commission, MEPs, member state representatives) and businesses. 


Target audience: a broad range of politicians, policymakers and businesses. 


Deadline for applicants: 21 March 2022 

Shortlisting deadline: 22 March 2022 

Appointment deadline: 23 March 2022 

Contract start date: 4 April 2022 

Deadline for delivery of final product: week commencing on 13 June 2022 

The service provider(s) will also be expected to be available to participate in structured online discussions with the CISL team over the period of the contract. Specific time and dates are to be confirmed.  

First draft to be completed by 27 April and final text to be submitted on the week commencing 13 June. A briefing meeting is provisionally scheduled for 4 April.  


The University intends to award to the most economically advantageous offer or offers in accordance with the following criteria: 

•    Suitability of proposed approach (25%)  

•    Demonstrate understanding of brief (25%)  

•    Relevant experience (25%)   

•    Value of quotation (25%) 

Expressions of interest 

If you are interested in applying, please submit the following information to by close of business on 21 March: 

CV(s) (max 4 pages per person)  

Quotation (including staff cost breakdown, excluding VAT)  

Description of the approach you would take (max 2 pages)  

Proposed structure for the literature review (max 1 page)  

Examples of relevant work experience (max 1 page)  

The University expects to decide award of contract by 23 March 2022.  

Please note 

Do not supply any goods or services until you have received confirmation that your proposal has been successful.  Acceptance of the proposal by the University will be in writing. A purchase order will normally be issued.  

The University will not reimburse any bidding costs. 

This Invitation is confidential. Do not discuss with any third parties the bid you intend to make (except professional advisers or joint bidders who need to be consulted) nor canvass your bid for acceptance. 

The University will regard submissions as confidential until award.  Information you believe would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 after award must be individually identified in your submission together with the reason for the exemption and for the non-disclosure period claimed. 

Variant bids may be submitted but must clearly identify all variants from the University’s specification and state all cost implications. 

Proposals and supporting documents shall be in English.  Any contract subsequently entered into will be subject to English law and jurisdiction. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, proposals and orders are issued subject to the University’s Standard Terms, a copy of which is available on request.   

Proposals shall comprise a response to the specification and a pricing schedule. 

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