Value chain

Partnership brings traceability software to polymers and circular chemicals value chain

Finnish oil refiner Neste has partnered with Dutch startup Circularise to integrate its traceability software into circular polymer and chemical supply chains. The collaboration will establish digital solutions for tracing flows of renewable and recycled materials, providing increased transparency across the value chain.

The digital twin

Circularise’s blockchain-based supply chain tracking software creates a “digital twin” for the physical material being tracked. The startup told Resource: “Digital twin is a broad term for a live digital representation of a physical system.

“It’s a term commonly used in engineering when software is used to control a physical system. The idea being that you create a digital clone of a physical system that you control, and then the physical system is modified to reflect that.

The twin stores information about the materials used throughout the value chain, allowing all parties to track the material. This, says Circularise, allows them to verify where the materials came from, and how and where they were processed. The digital twin can also provide information on sustainability data such as the carbon footprint of materials or products made from them.

Circularise continues: “Regarding the information [we] helps businesses share, some call it a digital record or a digital twin, but the phrase that’s becoming increasingly popular and more closely represents what we do is a digital product passport.

“EU regulations lay the groundwork for prescribing digital product passports in verticals such as electric vehicle batteries, construction and textiles (see the proposed update to the Ecodesign Regulation). This is designed to be a decentralized record that provides insight into a product’s overall impact, how to fix it, how to recycle it, key compliance information, and more.

“The goal of digital product passports is to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions, facilitate more efficient handling of end-of-life products, and accelerate the transformation of the industry towards more sustainable and circular.”

Downloading and storing data

According to Circularise, data can be uploaded in two ways: either manually using our software dashboard or automatically via an API in the company’s ERP system.

The startup explained, “Given the range of data types our customers track and the different stages of the supply chain we work with, the types of people who interact with the system also vary. The digital record must first be created, ideally at the raw material stage of the supply chain.

“The relevant data for which the raw material supplier is responsible is then added to the file, which is stored on the public blockchain (a decentralized system). After the company sends the product to its customer, it also sends the digital record, so ownership of the data obscures ownership of the record product.

“The process of updating the digital product passport with operational data then continues until you have a record of the impact of the entire finished product.”

Circularise detailed the verification process: “[It] depends on the product and the information downloaded. For something like material composition, the bill of materials (BOM) is used as a reference.

“BOM data remains local to the company’s system, but we create evidence from that data relating to the particular claim they want to make (e.g. contains 30% bio-based plastic) which is then uploaded to the digital record stored on the public blockchain.

“We also work with certification bodies to assign the certificates they have assigned to facilities/products, to the digital record that is linked to a separate physical product. Auditors can also reference the digital recording on the blockchain when performing an assessment to ensure that reality is reflected in the digital recording.

Access the software

According to the startup, the information is accessible by “anyone with an account and an internet connection” via the software’s dashboard. The information an individual can see is “selectively determined by those who uploaded each piece of information”.

Circularise told Resource: “Companies can choose to be fully transparent if they want to and make all information publicly available, they can selectively share data with members of the value chain or keep the information private and only available on request. This allows those who need it to get key insights, without sharing all the data publicly and without compromising proprietary data. »

The goal of the partnership is to help consumers make informed purchases, facilitate more efficient handling of end-of-life products, and accelerate industry transformation towards more sustainable and circular practices.

Within the polymer and chemical industry, materials undergo various processing stages, often mixed and co-processed with other materials – a factor which has increased the value of increased visibility, for Neste and Circularise .

By providing these details within the data-driven supply chain, it is hoped that the visibility provided will build trust in sustainable solutions.

Isabella Tonaco, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Execution at Neste, commented: “It is usually very easy to make sustainability claims, but very often it is not at all easy to back up those claims.

“Yet trust and credibility are crucial factors in sustainability. Being able to track and trace all materials going into a product provides a solid foundation for earning that trust and credibility.

“We look forward to working with Circularise to provide the polymer and chemical industry with a traceability solution to bring needed transparency across value chains.”