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Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

What is the PEF?

The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is part of the “Single Market for Green Products Initiative” initiated by the European Commission. The goal is to make it easier for companies to put green products on the European market and for consumers to identify them.

The PEF methodology is designed to be a standardised “rulebook” for measuring the environmental performance of a product. The PEF method is fundamentally based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), meaning that it allows users to determine the environmental footprint of a product all the way from raw material extraction to end-of-life treatment. It outlines a wide range of requirements regarding modelling choices, data collection, and quality, as well as quantification of impacts with life cycle impact assessment.

Since the PEF is a universal methodology, it can in principle be used to determine the environmental impact of any product on the European Market and compare them. Yet to streamline reporting efforts within industries, rules for similar products are organised in documents called PEF Category Rules (PEFCR). A PEFCR is created at industry level, usually by an (European) industry association or similar market organisation.

Many industries are already working with PEF, and are now creating their simplified tools and approaches. Industries that are new to the methodology should be looking into the development of the PEFCRs needed to create PEFs in the future.

Status in a European policy context

At the moment, the PEF is in the “transition stage”. The European Commission is evaluating where to use the PEF/OEF methodology in their policy and how to facilitate the implementation in practice. From policy developments, it is clear that the PEF is gaining traction in becoming the foundation of product environmental impact assessment in the EU, and will likely gain a more prominent role in regulations.

For example, EU policies and legislations such as the Taxonomy Regulation, Sustainable batteries Initiative, and Green Consumption Pledge, already foresee the use of the PEF method for environmental impact measurement. Also, the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) points out the possibility that the Commission will propose that organisations should support environmental claims using the PEF/OEF methods.

PEF Status - EU policy context - Flowchart

So where do I start?

The first step is familiarising yourself with your industry’s status. Does a PEFCR exist for your category? Are there methodologies for your products?

If you want to stay up to date on the general development of the product and organisational environmental footprint methodologies, you can subscribe to our newsletter (in the footer of this page) where we write about this on a regular basis.

Ecomatters support

Ecomatters has been involved in developing the PEF/ OEF rules over the last 9 years. We are direct members of the PEF Technical Advisory board and are active in PEFCR development.

We have experience in:
Developing PEFCRs
• Developing simplified calculation tools
Executing PEF studies
• PEFCR supporting studies
• Developing EF-compliant databases
• Review of PEFCR, PEF studies, and EF-compliant datasets

If you are looking for experienced support, Ecomatters can help you in understanding how PEF impacts your company. We are happy to discuss this with you and to help you to understand your position. Please check out our related projects or get in contact with us to know more.

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