What is the PCDS ?

The Product Circularity Data Sheet (PCDS) is a basic source of verifiable data. It can be used to establish how circular a product is and inform about the circular path it was designed and manufactured for. The PCDS offers a standardized format with trustful data without scoring or ranking of these aspects.

The PCDS is a three-fold system:

  1. A data template containing standardized and trustworthy statements on the product circularity
  2. A third-party verification process to validate the content of the PCDS (audit system)
  3. A standardized data exchange protocol based on decentralized data storage (IT system)

It has 3 objectives:

  1. Provide basic data on a product’s circularity to all relevant stakeholders
  2. Improve the sharing efficiency of circularity data across supply chains
  3. Encourage the improvement of product performance in terms of circularity

The general structure of the PCDS system is inspired by the MSDS system (Material Safety Data Sheet) that provides standardized statements to describe the safe use of chemical products/mixtures.

Designed for transparency along the supply chain

Each PCDS is independent of the later use of the product in the supply chain. For example, a PCDS for a component might show that it is designed for quick installation and removal. However, if that component is later welded or glued into a product, this will change and the combined product will have a new PCDS reflecting that. The original PCDS for the original component is still available for others to use, and a new PCDS is available for a combined product using that component. This ensures accuracy of data along the supply chain.

In this way, the PCDS reflects the circularity of a product as it passes along the chain, thus providing useful data to those who handle the product at the end. The PCDS helps manufacturers take the first steps towards transparency and product circularity.

Structure of the Data Template

The PCDS is organized in 5 major sections as shown below which describe the key characteristics of product circularity. Each statement is numbered following the logic of the overall PCDS structure. This structure will facilitate the automation of document creation and reading. The PCDS document also contains the definition of specific terms following ISO/CEN standards and International/EU regulations.

Each PCDS needs to be revised whenever there is a change in product composition or when new information/regulations on the circular characteristics become available. The PCDS may for example vary for the same product being manufactured in two different sites if one uses recycled content and the other does not. The physical properties of the product may be nearly identical, but the chemical composition differs and impacts some PCDS statements. Therefore, two distinct PCDS shall be created in such case.

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Handling the PCDS

A new PCDS is created and managed by a manufacturer at each stage of product manufacturing or transformation as illustrated in the below figure. Every supplier passes the relative PCDS one step up the supply chain to allow for its integration into the next tier’s product. Each manufacturer is responsible for the storage of the information related to the PCDS’ statements and for making such information accessible to other stakeholders upon request. Accordingly:

  • A PCDS is only modifiable by the original manufacturer of a product. If the product is modified by a third party, then a new PCDS is created to reflect any modification
  • The PCDS should be revised as soon as there is a change affecting any statement e.g.: product composition, regulation changes or any other circular property
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The main target group comprises manufacturing companies and all relevant stakeholders involved in establishing circular business models, as illustrated by the below figure. The overall objectives are to:

  • Establish a common language on how to describe circularity features
  • Save significant costs to manufacturers and their suppliers by providing standardized product information to their customers
  • Support the design of circular and healthy products
  • Support the implementation of cost-effective circular business models

At any stage of the supply chain, manufacturers receive multiple PCDS from their suppliers and integrate the data into a new PCDS for their own product, which is again made available to their customers.

The PCDS is designed to be harmonized with major current circularity tools and platforms. In that regard, the content of the PCDS has been reviewed with leading circularity leaders to ensure alignment in terms of definitions (e.g. C2C Product Innovation Institute, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UL,…).


During the elaboration of the PCDS it became rapidly clear that a common understanding on definitions is necessary and that some rules to fill out the PCDS is needed in order to obtain standardized output. Therefore, an additional guidance document has been elaborated to provide all necessary glossary.

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