What is a PEF study?
A Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) study is a life cycle assessment (LCA) study following the document that provides specific category rules (PEFCR) for a defined product category. The goal of a PEF study is to determine the environmental impact of a product across a wide range of harmonized impact categories, as well as a single PEF score allowing for fair comparisons. Results can potentially be used for internal decision making, product development, benchmarking of performance with the industry average, and applying for a PEF-score labelling when the latter is available.
What does the process look like?
The applicable PEFCR provides the rules on what to include in the system boundaries, which modelling choices must be made, which impact categories should be reported on, and how results must be quantified and presented. The environmental impact of the product under study should eventually be presented in a PEF report that is compliant with the PEFCR, and aligned with the PEF report template. Finally, a review of the PEF report shall be performed by an independent reviewer.
Steps in developing the PEF report
- Data collection – The manufacturer is asked to provide information about the production process. To facilitate a smooth process we have data collection templates that cover exactly the data that is required by the PEF(CR).
- LCA modelling – Our LCA expert uses the collected data and default parameters provided in the PEF method/PEFCR to create an LCA model that reflects the life cycle of the product.
- Life cycle impact assessment – In this step, the emissions, material extractions, and other forms of environmental impacts are converted into impact results for 16 separate environmental impact categories. These results can be used to get insights into which impact categories are the most relevant for the product’s performance, and which life cycle stages and processes cause the largest impacts in each of the impact categories.
Then the impacts in each category are translated into a single PEF score. This process is based on the universal product-independent translation factors developed by the JRC and recommended by the European Commission. The score considers the annual impact of the average European citizen over one year, as well as the relative importance of each impact category. This single score is the base for external benchmarking within the industry and outside of it.
Review of the PEF study
The verification and validation of the PEF study is mandatory when (part of) the PEF study is intended to be used for any type of external communication. A reviewer will provide a statement indicating the (non)compliance of the PEF study, or point out necessary improvements. The PEF method also sets minimum requirements to the qualifications of reviewers.
Our close involvement in the development of the PEF/OEF rules and PEFCRs gives us a step ahead when working with the methodology. At Ecomatters, we have years of experience with both developing and reviewing PEF studies in compliance with PEFCRs. Get in touch to get started.
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