With the recent Communication “Building the Single Market for Green Products” and the Recommendation on the use of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF) methods, the European Commission is pushing forward with the requirement for companies to provide verified, comparable and consistent environmental performance reports.
Facing a proliferation of methods and Member State policies to measure environmental performance of products and organizations, the European Commission is starting a standardization initiative. The 3-year pilot phase will start this autumn after a first call for volunteers closing on July 26th and is aimed at testing the implementation of sector specific rules based on Life Cycle Assessment thinking.
The Recommendation published in April 2013 (1) presents methodologies for assessing the environmental footprint of products (PEF) and organizations (OEF) and is based on the multi-criteria, supply-chain-wide Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method, taking into account existing standards or initiatives in member states. Inputs, output and potential environmental impacts of a system will be compiled and evaluated throughout its life cycle. Based on reliable data, these studies will allow comparison of results for a similar sector, including applications like:
- Support for product design minimising environmental impacts along the life cycle.
- Reputational schemes giving visibility to products that calculate their life cycle environmental performance.
- Providing incentives based on life cycle environmental performance, as appropriate.
- Optimization of processes along the whole supply chain of an organisation’s product portfolio;
- Communication of life cycle environmental performance to interested parties (e.g. through Annual Reports, in sustainability reporting, as a response to investor or stakeholder questionnaires).
In order to allow comparison of results for products or organizations within a same category or sector, specific guidelines need to be developed for Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) and Organization Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSR) respectively.
Objectives of the Environmental Footprint Pilot Phase
The objectives of the three-year pilot phase are the development and validation of the PEFCR/OEFSR, in addition to testing verification systems and communication vehicles. The results from the pilot phase will determine the rules to be used by all stakeholders who decide to measure the performance of their products based on the Environmental Footprint methods.
The European Commission is providing support and training to participants of the pilot phase. Participation is on a voluntary basis but the results verification will be undertaken by experts and the fees covered by the EU.
Application for the Pilot Phase
The call for volunteers for the 1st wave has been published late May 2013 by the European Commission and will close on July 26th. The call is addressed to any stakeholders (company, NGO, trade association or consumer association, EU and non-EU) and to any product, except food/feed/drink for which a specific call will be open in early 2014.
Timeline of the Test Period
- 26 July 2013 - Deadline for applications
- September 2013 - Selection of participants completed
- October/November 2013 - Start of 1st wave of EF category rules pilot
- April-June 2014 (expected) - Start of testing verification processes
- April 2015 (expected) - Start of tests of communication vehicles
About SGS Environmental Services
SGS offers a range of environmental services (http://www.sgs.com/en/Consumer-Goods-Retail/Quality-Health-Safety-and-Environment/Environment.aspx), guidance and advice in complying with environmental regulations and in assessing your environmental performance. SGS can support you in applying to join the pilot, in collecting the data or in evaluating the gap between your current in-house methods and the EU expectations.
Several webinars will be held to inform clients and contacts about why and how to apply. Please check the SGS events webpage (http://www.sgs.com/en/Our-Company/Events.aspx).
(1)Commission Recommendation of 9 April 2013 on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organizations (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:124:FULL:EN:PDF)
Please contact the SGS experts for further information.
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Global Sustainability Services
Senior Sustainability Consultant
SGS United Kingdom Limited
Saunders House, 52-53 The Mall
Ealing, London W5 3TA United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)203 008 7866
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 75 000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1 500 offices and laboratories around the world.