Bringing Product Environmental Footprint to the Next Level: Review of Supporting Studies
Part of the European Commission’s Environmental Footprinting initiative is testing its new rules with real products. PRé and Ecomatters reviewed 40 studies, uncovering useful information that will be used to refine the rules.
Setting High Goals with the Environmental Footprinting Initiative
The European Commission’s Environmental Footprinting (EF) initiative is an ambitious project that PRé is intimately involved with. The goals of the EF initiative are to standardise LCA by developing product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCR) and organisation environmental footprint sector rules (OEFSR.) These are aimed to make LCA more accessible and easier to do, so the quality and credibility of the results go up. Because of the standardised approach of the PEF and OEF methods, it would finally be possible to easily compare and benchmark your products to those of others. PRé has been the Technical Helpdesk for the EF initiative for years, and is involved in shadow PEFs and the creation of EF-compliant databases.
Reviewing is How We Learn
Now the EF pilot phase is coming to an end, the methodology developed during this phase is being put to the test. Each pilot project was required to test their footprinting category or sector rules on at least three real-world products or organisations. Since there were 26 pilot projects to start with, that amounts to a lot of studies. PRé and fellow consultancy bureau Ecomatters were asked to review 40 studies.
There were two main goals. First, to learn more about the applicability of the draft PEFCRs and OEFSRs and to identify where more or improved guidance is needed, for instance by clarifying reporting requirements. Second, to focus on so-called horizontal issues. These are cross-cutting technical issues that came up in several or all pilots, e.g. which rules to use for modelling the use stage. Reviewing these cross-cutting issues is another chance to tighten up the guidance documents provided with the PEFCRs and OEFSRs.
Applying State-of-the-art Rules to Your Product Portfolio
Even though the PEFCRs and OEFSRs are not yet final, visionary LCA practitioners and companies are already taking up the methodology and applying it to their products and organisations. To do so, it is very important to stay up-to-date with the findings from this review. Would you like to know more about applying EF rules to your product portfolio in a way that is consistent with the latest insight? Contact me or view the full case study. [PDF]
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