Product Environmental Footprint

Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

European standard to measure environmental performance

Measuring environmental sustainability of products is a big challenge. There exist many labels, which currently confuses consumers en producers. Therefore, the European Commission proposed to develop a standard method for measuring and communicating environmental performance throughout the life cycle.

In April 2013 the European Commission published a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council called Building the Single Market for Green Products: Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations’. It introduces a method for measuring and communicating environmental performance of products and services throughout the life cycle. This method is called Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). The proposed PEF method is a framework of general requirements and principles to measure the environmental impact of products and services.

Rules to calculate environmental impact

The proposed PEF method is a framework of general requirements and principles to calculate the environmental impact of products and services. The European Commission aims to develop more specific technical guidance for product groups (‘category rules’) so that the main methodological choices in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies can be standardised. It will then in principle not make any difference who carries out these studies; if all the methodological rules are followed and all requirements met, the results will be virtually the same.

The PEFCRs will standardise the use of primary data and background data and ensure the data are as reliable as possible and that any missing data are drawn from the same background database. In addition, system boundaries, allocation rules and the method for calculating environmental impacts will be harmonised.

Finally, this will result in transparency for producers and consumers. In order to develop the rules the following steps were (and are still) followed: definition of product category, structure and analyse of data, interpretation and finally communication.

PEF Pilot Projects

In 2014 PEF pilot projects for 21 product groups were started to prepare more specific technical guidance in PEFCRs. Some of these pilot projects have been discontinued. In 2018 the first PEFCRs have been approved by the European Commission. It is expected that in coming months several other PEFCRs will be approved.

Calculate and communicate the environmental impact

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method for describing the whole life cycle of a product. All phases in the product's life cycle are analysed, from raw materials, packaging and transport to retail, consumption and waste processing. The environmental impact of a certain product will become visible. The producer will gain insights in the so-called 'hotspots' (parts in the supply chain which cause a substantial environmental impact). By reducing these hotspots a product can become more environmental friendly. Finally, this will help consumers and producers to make a more sustainable choice and create sustainable products.

Involvement of Blonk Consultants in PEF project

In 2015 Blonk Consultants started with the development of (draft) Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) for three product categories: feed, meat and beer.

In order to develop the (draft) PEFCRs various 'screening studies' have been carried out. Thereafter the (draft) PEFCRs were tested by 'supporting studies'. These 'supporting studies' were applied to specific products of companies which participate in the Technical Secretariat. In the beginning of 2018 the Feed and Beer PEFCRs were officially approved by the European Commission.
FEED PEFCR - front page

PEFCR - Feed for food producing animals

Feed PEFCR first to be approved by the European Commission

The Feed PEFCR was the first PEFCR to be officially approved by the European Commission. On 15 February 2018 the PEFCR ‘Feed for Food Producing Animals’ was approved by a large majority at the Environmental Footprint Steering Group Meeting in Brussels. During the development of the feed PEFCR, Blonk Consultants supported the Technical Secretariat of the PEF pilot on ‘Feed for Food producing Animals’, chaired by FEFAC, the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation. This involved all the technical work needed to define the representative product, the screening study and drafting the PEFCR.

The feed PEFCR is a crucial building block for the feed industry’s efforts to develop a framework for conducting meaningful LCA studies. It provides important pointers for calculating the environmental footprint of feed products and production, and complements other activities such as the development of a global feed LCI database and a global feed LCA tool. Blonk Consultants and its Agri-footprint database are helping the industry to achieve its ambitious agenda.

More information about the Product Environmental Footprint method?

Please contact Hans Blonk, director.
Tel +31 (0)182 579970