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The development of the PEF and OEF methods

DG Environment has worked together with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC IES) and other European Commission services towards the development of a harmonised methodology for the calculation of the environmental footprint of products and organisations (including carbon).

Existing methods and initiatives were taken into account

The final methods, called Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF), were published as an Annex to the Commission Recommendation on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations. The two methods are tightly interlinked and will have many elements in common.

This version was developed taking into account the results of 2011 road test, the results of the invited expert consultation and of a consultation between Commission services.

The timeline of methodology development

March 2011
June 2011 (PEF)/ September 2011 (OEF)
13-15 July 2011 and
19-20 October 2011
28-30 November 2011
20 December 2011 (PEF)
28 February 2012 (OEF)
January 2012 – April 2012
April 2013

Testing the methods

The technical guide developed by JRC IES was tested using a limited number of pilot studies representative of a wide variety of goods and services based on a call for volunteers. Due to time and resource constraints, the number of pilot tests was limited to 10.

The PEF tests covered through the testing included: agriculture, retail, construction, chemicals, ICT, food, manufacturing (footwear, televisions, paper). The OEF tests covered retail, food, energy production, water supply, feed, public sector, ICT, mining, chemicals and paper manufacturing. The results of the testing were used for the development of the final technical guides.

Testing the Product Footprint Category Rules (PFCR)

Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules aim at providing detailed technical guidance on how to conduct a product environmental footprint study. PEFCRs complement general methodological guidance for environmental footprint by providing further specification at the product level. PEFCRs will increase reproducibility and consistency in product environmental footprint studies.

The Commission, in collaboration with Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), has tested the process aimed at developing Product Footprint Category Rules (PFCR) for paper. Please contact CEPI for more information on this testing exercise.

Expert consultation on the 1st draft of the PEF and OEF methods

The first draft of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and of the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) method was discussed in detail during a workshop that took place in Brussels on 29-30 November 2011. Comments were analysed by DG Environment and JRC IES and the results, together with the outcomes of the pilot tests, were taken into account in the draft final version of PEF and of the OEF, when relevant and feasible. Due to the tight timeline, there was no possibility to provide written feedback to the comments provided.

The video recording of the meeting and the slides presented are available: