Industry 4.0 makes businesses more flexible and taps new potential, for example through automated and self-learning manufacturing and logistics systems. The accompanying increase in the use of data creates new business models and services, but also requires more reliable standards.
A key measure of the Digital Policy Agenda for the Environment is the introduction of a standardised Digital Product Passport. The Passport will contain all important environmental and material data of a product. It will make mandatory reporting easier for businesses and create transparency for buyers and consumers.
Standardised data on products and waste material flows can help further develop facilities in the waste management sector. Tasking the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) with setting up a database on substances of concern for operators of waste treatment facilities is an important step that will help ensure that such substances are filtered out of recyclable material flows. The BMU is also supporting pilot projects in a living laboratory for digitally networked model municipalities. These will develop solutions to the problems the waste management sector is experiencing with collection logistics in densely populated cities and scattered rural areas. There are also apps already available which encourage consumers to prevent waste and separate waste more consciously.
The latest update of the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess III) identifies areas in production where standardisation is required. It also envisages the creation of an open data platform for resource conservation. The platform is intended to help identify advances, undesirable trends and action required in resource policy, and to extend the public data base for individual material flows and their environmental significance.
The voluntary European environmental management system EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is an important instrument for systematic corporate environmental protection. In addition to improving environmental performance, EMAS offers economic opportunities: potential for saving resources is identified and legal certainty is increased through verifiable compliance with provisions.
The promotion of digital industrial innovations for climate action and resource conservation strengthen the capacity for action in industry and the circular economy. Air quality control or wastewater treatment facilities can, for example, be directly linked to digitally controlled production processes and become more efficient. Under its Environmental Innovation Programme, the BMU makes funding available from its Energy and Climate Fund for investments in the decarbonisation of the industrial sector. New focal area of support: digital technologies.