The EC Environmental Footprint (EF) method was developed in the context of one of the building blocks of the Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy – “A resource-efficient Europe.” The EC EF method is split into two distinct blocks depending on whether it is applied to products (Product Environmental Footprint – PEF) or organisations (Organisation Environmental Footprint – OEF).
The European Commission’s “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” proposes ways to increase resource productivity and to decouple economic growth from both resource use and environmental impacts, taking a life-cycle perspective. One of its objectives is to: “Establish a common methodological approach to enable Member States and the private sector to assess, display and benchmark the environmental performance of products, services and companies based on a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts over the life-cycle (‘environmental footprint’)”. The European Council invited the Commission to develop supporting methodologies.
The EC PEF method has undergone extensive testing and consultation phases and, ultimately, the 2013 Recommendation of the European Commission 2013/179/EU “on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations” when undertaking environmental footprint studies of products and organisations.
The EC EF method is a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good, a service or an organisation throughout its life cycle. EF information is produced for the overarching purpose of reducing the environmental impacts taking into account supply chain activities (from extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management). The following illustrates the steps to be followed when carrying out a PEF study:
In order to further increase methodological harmonisation, specificity, relevance, reproducibility and comparability between studies, product category and sector-specific rules are being developed in approximately 27 pilot cases with strong participation from industry. In a three-year process ending in 2016, the pilots will deliver Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) and Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs) as an extension of and complement to the more general PEF and Oorganisations Environmental Footprint (OEF) guides. PEFCRs and OEFSRs will help to further focus the EF study on the most important parameters, which will in turn help to reduce the time, effort, and costs involved. The JRC is leading the development of the PEFCR pilot test on intermediate paper products, the OEFSR pilot test on Copper-producing organisations, and the PEFCR pilot test on olive oil. More information on the status of the pilots can be found under the following pages: