A company wishing to market its product as environmentally friendly in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives. Sometimes they have to use different ones for different markets. This results in costs for companies and confusion for consumers.
The European Commission proposed the Product Environmental Footprint and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods as a common way of measuring environmental performance.
The approach was tested between 2013-2018 together with more than 280 volunteering companies and organisations. The results and reports of the pilot phase are available.
Based on the results of the testing, the European Commission is now exploring how to use the Product and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods in policies. The European Commission is launching a series of consultations on this subject.
An open consultation was running until the 24th of January 2019 on a product policy framework for the circular economy, with a section dedicated to the Environmental Footprint.In addition, a series of targeted questionnaires were launched, focusing specifically on potential policies implementing the Environmental Footprint methods. They were developed for businesses and business associations, investors and financial institutions, public administrations and international organisations, NGOs and method/ initiative owners. The report on these consultation activities will be soon available on this page.
A consultation meeting took place on potential future policy applications for the Environmental Footprint methods on the 26 April 2018. The results of this consultation will also be taken into consideration when analysing the input from stakeholders. Read the report on the stakeholder event.
What problems do companies face?
Example: A given company wishing to market its product as a green product in UK, France, Italy and Switzerland would need to apply different schemes in order to compete based on environmental performance in the different national markets. In France, it would need to carry out an environmental assessment in line with the French method (BP X30-323); in the UK, it would need to apply the PAS 2050 or the WRI GHG Protocol; in Switzerland, it would need to apply the Swiss approach (currently under development); in Italy, it would need to join the governmentally recognised carbon footprint scheme, and carry out yet another analysis. The same company would also need to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) based on ISO 14025 for the Swedish market. They may then need to undertake multiple EPDs as there are at least six competing EPD systems around the world with their own specificities, even if they are all based on ISO 14025.
What problems do consumers face?
Consumers are confused by the stream of incomparable and diverse environmental information. 59% think that product labels do not provide enough information, and 48% think that labels are not clear.
About half of European consumers think it is not easy to differentiate between environmentally friendly and other products and only about half of them trust producers' claims about environmental performance. This also influences their readiness to make green purchases.
Interested in more insight about consumers? Read the Eurobarometer.
The Commission carried out a study on Consumer testing of alternatives for communicating the Environmental Footprint profile of products. The study built on the results of the communication tests of the Environmental Footprint pilot phase. It gathered insight into the most desirable ways of communicating the Environmental Footprint profile to consumers: how to provide information that will most likely attract the attention of the consumer, that conveys an understandable and trusted message and that encourages consumers to take the information into consideration when buying products.
What policy does the European Commission pursue?
The Single Market for Green Products initiative proposes a set of actions to overcome these problems:
The four-year testing period was launched through an open call for volunteers. Details on the pilots are available on the Environmental Footprint pilot pages.
How can stakeholders participate?
Stakeholders had the possibility to sign up to follow the development of Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRS) and Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs) that are relevant for them on the Environmental Footprint Wiki.