What is an EPD?
An EPD — environmental product declaration — is a third-party verified document that is officially registered to show the environmental impact of a product or service. To construct the EPD, an LCA is first used to calculate the impacts which are to be included within the EPD according to specific standards (e.g. EN 15804). The finished document is verified by an approved system operator and published on one of the publicly available online platforms. EPDs provide transparent and comparable information about a product. The completed EPD, therefore, serves as an environmental label or declaration.
The LCA data calculations behind an EPD use Life cycle inventory analysis (LCI). These calculations and processes follow the ISO 14040 standard. ISO 14040 is the standard developed to describe the principles and framework of conducting an LCA. There are also specific standards for developing the declarations and labels that the LCA is used to support. In the context of EPDs, this is commonly the ISO 14025: Environmental labels and declarations – Type III environmental declarations. The standards ensure the calculations behind the LCAs and EPD are uniform, so the finalized EPDs are comparable across sectors.
Validity and Variations
Environmental product declarations (EPDs) are subject to different validity periods, though most are valid for 5 years. Currently, they are mainly relevant in business-to-business communication, business-to-consumer communication, eco-design, and green public procurement. In addition, they factor into obtaining credits in building assessment schemes (e.g. BREEAM and LEED).
Although less common, EPDs can also follow the ISO 14021 standard. This standard is the “Environmental labels and declarations: self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling)”. As the name indicates, these claims are self-made, self-certified, and self-published. Many times manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, or anyone else likely to benefit from environmental claims, use this standard. These types of claims might not include LCA data and they do not require independent verification. Therefore, in order to still ensure reliability, the claimant is responsible for evaluating and providing the data for verification. Despite this stipulation, however, these types of claims are not valid for obtaining credits in building assessment schemes and run the risk of being considered green-washing.
Ecomatters EPD support
Overall, within the world of LCA, the term “EPD” is normally understood as a type III environmental declaration. Here at Ecomatters, we have a strong history of conducting quality LCAs, following the appropriate standards, for products and services. We have supported various clients with conducting LCAs and formulating EPDs for products and services in the chemical and manufacturing industries, including chemicals and coatings, plastics and packaging, and the building sector. If you already have experience and want specific support, our flexible team is familiar with both GaBi and SimaPro LCA modelling software and is ready to help your organization where you need it most. Get in contact with us for more information. In addition, our partner relationships ensure the LCA is correctly verified and effectively published on the appropriate EPD platforms. In the Netherlands, the specific EPDs are collected in the “Nationale Milieu Database”. We are able to support you in creating the relevant content for this and other platforms.
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