After its debut in the European Commission’s Integrated Product Policy (COM (2003)302) as the “best framework for assessing the potential environmental impacts of products”, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has become increasingly essential in support of community policies and business.
Within this framework, the European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment (EPLCA), developed by the JRC, together with DG-Environment, represents the reference point for data and methods essential to implementing Life Cycle based approaches.. The Platform promotes the availability of data and information, with a focus on coherence and quality assurance.
Although methodology development is advancing fast, including the provision of authoritative requirements by the European Commission, the availability of coherent, quality-assured life cycle data and studies still represent a more major challenge to mainstream use of LCA and associated environmental footprint methods in business and in policy.
Although a lot of work has been already done, there are still several bottlenecks preventing the Platform to effectively and efficiently meet the growing needs of policy makers and other stakeholders. Seeking for synergies among tools, improving transparency and consistency of data, and populating the ELCD and ILCD DN with new data are just a few examples of further development necessities.
This Roadmap provides an overview of what would be required to further improve and best position the European Platform on LCA in relation to a slection of key on-going EC policy support activities required to facilitate environmental sustainability. The Roadmap specifies a number of action proposals. These actions are differentiated in the Roadmap in terms of time frame (i.e. short-mid-term describing circa 3 years starting from 2014, while the longer-term perspective represents a vision for the future evolution). Based on the availability of resources, three scenarios have been delineated to undertake to various extents these actions.
In short, the first scenario assumes minor changes to the current resource availability. This scenario would address only the most important needs, detected as transversal across the different EU projects and policies involved, including only the strictly necessary improvements.
According to the second scenario, efforts would be slightly increased in terms of additional resources. Given the current situation, this scenario seems to be the minimum-effort scenario to improve the Platform in a timely manner. This scenario entails, among others, the expansion of the data and information support tools needed to make e.g. the Environmental Footprint method development a reality; amongst other policy and business support needs of the community.
With major additional resources very important goals could be achieved in a fast-track manner. Through this third scenario, the Platform could become the unique reference point for all the life cycle based activities in the EU, facilitating interactions among stakeholders, policy makers and practitioners, and creating synergies for data exchange between the European Commission and other EU institutions (also at member-state level).