Europe prepares to test industry standard for product sustainability

Companies wanting to highlight the environmental performance of their products could receive a welcome boost as a European standard for product lifecycle analysis (LCA) moves a step closer.

Currently firms seeking a competitive edge in this field face numerous obstacles as there is no standardised process in place for measuring LCA, meaning they are often forced to pay multiple costs for providing environmental information.

This also contributes to mistrust among consumers, many of whom are left confused by too many labels with information that makes products difficult to compare.

To address this, the European Commission announced today it is proposing EU-wide methods to measure the environmental performance of products and organisations, and encouraging member states and the private sector to take them up.

The proposal puts forward two methods to measure environmental performance throughout the lifecycle, the product environmental footprint (PEF) and the organisation environmental footprint (OEF).

The scheme, if it goes ahead, is likely to be voluntary and the EC is looking to run a three-year pilot to test the proposals, developing product- and sector-specific rules through a multi-stakeholder process.

The initiative forms part of the EC’s Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe strategy, in particular the section related to sustainable consumption and production.

Commenting on the announcement, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said that to boost sustainable growth “we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable”.

Maxine Perella

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