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Document 32013H0179

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Reliable benchmarking of environmental performance

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
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  • Date of last review: 05/02/2014
  • Initial creation date: 05/02/2014
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  • Author: Publications Office
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Reliable benchmarking of environmental performance

Building the Single Market for Green Products is a European Commission initiative to boost the use of green products and organisations, with two new methods to improve the measurement and communication of environmental performance.

ACT

Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Building the Single Market for Green Products - Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations [COM(2013) 196 final - not published in the Official Journal]

SUMMARY

Green products make more efficient use of resources and cause less environmental damage, compared to other similar products. They also benefit society by increasing consumer satisfaction, fostering innovation and creating sustainable employment. A more resource-efficient EU economy could generate 2.8 million jobs by 2020.

Worldwide, the market for green products and services is estimated at €4.2 trillion. Yet although the EU has a one-fifth share of that market, green products still only make up a small fraction of its internal market.

Building the Single Market for Green Products

This initiative aims to boost the free circulation of green products across the EU by removing potential barriers, notably the lack of a common definition of green products and organisations. A further barrier is the high cost to business of complying with numerous different labelling and verification schemes.

Here, the European Commission introduces two methods to remove the ambiguity - not to mention consumer scepticism - often associated with so-called green products. Developed in Europe over the last decade, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) are designed to improve the measurement and communication of the environmental performance of green products.

Compared to existing methods, PEF and OEF offer several advantages. Among these are the clear identification of the potential environmental impact requiring assessment in a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), as well as various data quality requirements.

Both methods are accompanied by Category Rules (CR), allowing easier comparison of products or sectors by focusing on just three or four environmental impacts. For example, the PEFCR might be used to create one representative detergent. Manufacturers could then measure the environmental performance of newly developed detergents against that.

Better communication

In addition to these two methods, the Commission recommends the following principles be used when communicating the environmental performance of products and organisations:

  • Transparency
  • Availability and accessibiliy
  • Reliability
  • Completeness
  • Comparabilility
  • Clarity

The Commission will test and validate these two methods over three years, whilst developing environmental benchmarks for each one. It will also look at alternative methods. The Commission will then assess the success of using PEF and OEF, plus related benchmarks, with a view to developing environmental performance tools or standards.

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the European Commission of 20 September 2011 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe [COM(2011)571 final - not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Recommendation 2013/179/EU on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations [Official Journal L 124 of 4.5.2013]

Last updated: 05.02.2014

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