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The EC Organization Environmental Footprint and the Development of Sector-Specific Guidance Documents

Abstract: 
Purpose: The presented EC Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) measures environmental impacts of organisations based on a life cycle approach to ensure no important issues are overlooked both throughout the value chain and regarding relevant environmental areas. It is responding to various policy requests 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')” . Methods: The OEF provides the possibility for a more “top down” approach versus a product related approach like the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), making data collection easier and requiring less effort. The ongoing three year pilot phase ending 2016 will explore the possibilities to develop more specific Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs). Results and discussion: The Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs) will lead to increased specificity, relevance and robustness of the assessments while at the same time striving for simplifications versus the OEF general guide. Simplification can be achieved e.g. by pre-identifying relevant life cycle stages, purchased products and environmental impacts on a sector specific level, focusing the work on what matters most. Conclusions: The three year pilot phase is a true pilot, especially for the OEF and OEFSR developments as far less experience is available compared to the assessment of products. This also and especially applies to the question if and how far comparability between organisations within the same sector providing similar products and services to society can be achieved. Considerations on whether to take any policy action is expected to take place in 2017-18 based on the result of the pilots and their peer review and evaluation