What is the PEF (and the OEF)?
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is part of the “Single Market for Green Products Initiative” initiated by the European Commission. Their 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 standardized way of measuring the environmental performance of a product. A similar methodology called the Organisational Environmental Footprint (OEF) is exactly like the product rules but looks at organizational activities.
The OEF is designed to reduce the environmental impacts associated with organizational activities (including supply chain). The organizations involved include businesses, administrative entities, and non-profit organizations.
Physically, the Product Environmental Footprint is a standardized document similar to an LCA / EPD. Per product, it outlines all the steps and specific rules established to make the appropriate environmental performance calculations. The rules for similar products are organized in documents called PEF Category Rules (PEFCR). A PEFCR is created at industry level, usually by a (European) industry association or similar market organization.
Once the PEFCR is created for a category of industry products, you can then follow these rules and carry out the correct LCA calculations. The European Commission has also made the data sets accompanying the PEFCRs available. The calculation models and input data they provide are very structured and standardized. This is a very cost-effective way of doing an LCA as a lot of the initial legwork has already been done. The process can usually be simplified further by creating a tool.
At the moment, the PEF is in the “transition stage”. The European Commission is evaluating where to use the PEFCR Methodology in their policy and facilitate the implementation in practice. The same holds for the OEF.
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 developing the PEFCR’s needed to create PEFs in the future.
So what do I do?
The first step would be familiarizing 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 organizational environmental footprint methodologies, you can subscribe to our newsletter (we write about this on a regular basis).
Ecomatters has been involved in developing the PEF/ OEF rules over the last 5 years. We are direct members of the PEF Technical Advisory board and are active in PEFCR development. Specifically, we supported the paint industry in every step of the way when they were developing their PEFCR.
We have experience in:
- Developing PEFCRs
- Developing simplified calculation tools
- Executing PEF screening studies
- PEF supporting studies
- Developing PEF compliant databases
If you are looking for experienced support, Ecomatters can advise you on understand how the 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.