We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The JRC supports the implementation of European sustainable product policies such as EU Ecolabel, Green Public Procurement, Eco-design of Energy-Related Products (ErP),and Energy Label. Its main tasks are:
The EU Ecolabel, established in 1992, identifies products and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw material through to production, use and disposal. Recognised throughout Europe, EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label promoting environmental excellence which can be trusted.
The JRC analyses product groups from the environmental, technological and economic point of view and develops a proposal of product specifications achievable by the 10-20% best performing products on the market. This proposal is further developed in discussions with stakeholders in a consensus based approach in order to arrive at a legal proposal that meets the needs of consumers and industry at the same time.
Europe's public authorities are major consumers. By using their purchasing power to choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production. This is the concept of Green Public Procurement (GPP).
Although GPP is a voluntary instrument, it has a key role to play in the EU's efforts to become a more resource-efficient economy. It can help stimulate a critical mass of demand for more sustainable goods and services which otherwise would be difficult to get onto the market. GPP is therefore a strong stimulus for eco-innovation. The JRC develops criteria for the specific needs of public procurers which help them to integrate environmental selection criteria into their procurement procedures. These criteria are derived in the same way as those for Ecolabel criteria. In case GPP and Ecolabel criteria are developed for the same product group, one key objective is to harmonise the criteria as far as possible in order to ensure consistency between policy instruments.
The production, distribution, use and end-of-life management of energy-related products (ErPs) is associated with important impacts on the environment, such as the consequences of energy and other materials/resources consumption, waste generation and release of hazardous substances. It is estimated that over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase of a product. Eco-design aims at reducing the environmental impact of products, including the energy consumption throughout their entire life cycle.
The JRC follows the steps laid down in the Ecodesign methodology (MEErP) when developing the preparatory study and draft recommendations for implementing measures. Like in Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement, the respective product group is analysed from the environmental, technological and economic perspective in order to arrive at a well-founded proposal for minimum requirements for products to be placed on the European single market. This process is very stakeholder focused, in order to integrate the point of view of all relevant parties.
Energy labels help consumers choosing products which save energy and thus money. They also provide incentives for the industry to develop and invest in energy efficient product design. In parallel to the preparatory study under energy-related products (ErPs), the JRC analyses the potential to develop an energy label with the rating A-G for a certain product group. The work steps are similar to Ecodesign, as the Energy Labelling is also developed following the Ecodesign methodology (MEErP) study.