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Communication through ecolabels: how discrepancies between the EU PEF and EPD schemes could affect outcome consistency

  • Adriana Del BorghiEmail author
  • Luca Moreschi
  • Michela Gallo
THE FUTURE OF ECOLABELS
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Abstract

Purpose

Despite in Europe companies and policy makers perceive both the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Type III environmental declarations as applicable tools supporting external communication or public procurement, at scientific level there is still no prompt and comprehensive comparison between the PEF Guide and the EPD requirements. Therefore, this paper aims to compare the relevant PEF Guide requirements with the key rules defined by the International EPD® System (IES)—one of the main widely accepted EPD schemes —identifying the critical discrepancies which potentially reduces the consistency of the outcomes.

Methods

Coherently with the approach of the PEF Guide, the comparison was based on the analysis of the following criteria: scope, LCA application, reporting, review. Further, after a qualitative pre-assessment, the average results of the EPDs published in IES framework were evaluated in respect to the available benchmarks for the products belonging to the same categories for which the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) were finalised.

Results and discussion

An overview of some key selected requirements contained in the PEF Guide was compared with the requirements/specifications contained in the IES GPI. Despite having a comparable scope and being based on a life cycle approach, the methods are not aligned in several key requirements, such as cut-off rules, modelling approach, allocation rules, and impact categories. The results of the comparison between the benchmarks defined in the PEFCRs and the average impacts in the EPDs show a general low comparability and, anyway, limited to the climate change impact category.

Conclusions

This paper was aimed to compare the relevant PEF Guide requirements with the key rules defined by the IES. Several critical discrepancies have been identified concerning key requirements affecting the results. The main outcome is that PEF and GPI results cannot be considered comparable and the EU PEF and EPDs cannot be alternatively used as tools supporting Green Public Procurement (GPP) tender requirements. In conclusion, the development of ecolabels can be stimulated via several initiatives such as improving the access to good quality LCA data and strengthening the link between public procurement and environmental labels, but a lot of work is still to be done to reach the harmonisation of rules and the comparability of the results. At present, a statement of non-comparability could be added on ecolabels based on different specific rules.

Keywords

Environmental label Product environmental footprint PEF Environmental product declaration EPD Product category rules 

Notes

References

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly

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