EU Sets Forth New Evaluation for Environmental Impact

The European Commission has developed two lifecycle-based methods for the analysis of environmental impacts for products (Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)) and organizations (Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF)) to harmonize environmental assessments and their related claims.

The methods are currently being tested during a three-year pilot phase, with the first wave of pilots for non-food products already started in November 2013 and the second wave of pilots for food, feed, and drink products starting in June 2014.

Objectives of the environmental footprint pilot phase
Aiming to promote sustainable consumption, giving consumers reliable and comparable information about environmental impacts of products and organizations, the European Commission is proposing two Environmental Footprint (EF) methods to measure environmental performance of products and organizations.

The methods are taking into account a wide range of environmental impacts along the entire life cycle and are based on different existing standards, such as ISO 14040 and 14044 for life cycle assessment, the ILCD Handbook, and the standards developed by the GHG Protocol. One of the possible outcomes is a simplified environmental claims process for manufacturers, based on LCA concepts, and relying as well on additional robust data.

The application of the EFs is voluntary; however, it is possible that the methods may become mandatory after the pilot phase. The outcomes of the pilot phase will be used for policy discussions.

About the environmental footprint pilot phase
The EU Commission launched a three-year testing period to develop, through a multi-stakeholder dialogue, product- and sector-specific rules for the conduction of EFs as well as benchmarks for specific product groups and sectors. In addition, the pilot phase aims to test different B2B and B2C communication tools for the publication of PEF and OEF information.

Within the first wave of pilots PEF and OEF pilots for products and organizations from non-food sectors, 15 projects were selected from diverse sectors, for example electronic, textile, detergents, and paint. The pilots of the first wave started in November 2013 and are expected to end in February 2016. SGS is involved in three of the pilots.

The second wave of pilots addresses products and organizations from food, feed, drink, food packaging and fertilizer sectors as well as catering services. The application phase started in January 2014 and will close on 28 March 2014 17:00 CET. Up to 10 projects will be selected; and are expected to start in June 2014 and end in December 2016.

Timeline of second wave of pilots in EF pilot phase can be consulted on the latest SafeGuards bulletin.

Application for the pilot phase
There are two ways to participate in the pilot phase:
  • As a leader of a project as member of the Technical Secretariat, or
  • As a stakeholder without a leading role.
Members of the Technical Secretariat will develop product or sector specific rules, will perform EF studies, and will propose and test communication of EF results.

Stakeholders will accompany and supervise the pilot projects. All documents are made publicly available on a wiki page and each project has to include four stakeholder consultations - two physical and two virtual consultations.

Organizations or group of organizations should apply. Also non-European actors can join the pilot phase, if they have operations in the EU market. For pilots, a high share in EU market is requested.
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